Pearls for Your Practice: Woodpecker PT-B by Vakker Dental, Adhese Universal DC by Ivoclar, Alpha AI Slicing Software by Ackuretta

Feb. 23, 2024
Dr. Joshua Austin reviews a combo ultrasonic and air polishing unit, a dual-cure universal adhesive with applications across all areas of restorative dentistry, and software that makes 3D printing easier.

Woodpecker PT-B by Vakker Dental

Biofilm management is a hot topic in the hygiene and periodontal world. As we all know, the basic etiology of periodontal issues is plaque. The ability to use a gentle method to remove that plaque during prophylaxis and other periodontal procedures is key to treating issues successfully. While I am definitely interested in offering that type of advanced hygiene care, it comes at a tremendous cost that I find hard to justify for something that doesn’t generate significant additional revenue for my practice. The answer for me is the Woodpecker PT-B by Vakker Dental.

The Woodpecker PT-B is a combination ultrasonic and air polishing unit that is sleekly designed and well laid out. It looks modern and futuristic and has an intuitive touch-screen interface for simple use. The ultrasonic side of the unit has broad applications. It can be used for periodontal treatment and additionally for endodontic uses with its implant maintenance and restorative preparation settings. Individual ultrasonic tips would be needed based on what application you’re shooting for. This is truly a whole-practice ultrasonic unit. We use ours mainly in hygiene, but we have it on a cart so I could use it in my treatment rooms if I wanted to.

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The air polishing side of the system is also amazing. It offers 12 levels of water volume and power adjustment to get just the right flow needed to clean even the toughest plaque. In addition to being able to adjust the power and water spray, you can control the temperature of the water; this makes periodontal procedures comfortable for sensitive patients. I have had many patients say that they’ve never had a cleaning that felt that good. I’ve never heard that about prophy paste.

From its ability to control biofilm with multiple types of powder and air abrasion and its expanded ultrasonic capability, to its ability to change water temperature for patient comfort, the Woodpecker PT-B was immediately a hit with my hygienists and patients. It has become popular enough in my practice to have compelled me to consider adding a second unit—and because its cost is around one-third that of its competitor, planning for that purchase requires far less. 

Adhese Universal DC by Ivoclar

Time and time again in this column, I’ve written about the advantages of universal adhesives. They offer vital flexibility for multiple kinds of procedures as well as for letting dentists etch in a manner that best fits the substrate and situation. One question I get asked a lot is, if we’re using universal adhesives for delivering indirect restorations, what happens when we can’t get light to the area we are trying to bond to? This is where Adhese Universal DC by Ivoclar comes in.

Adhese Universal DC is a dual-cure universal adhesive with applications across all areas of restorative dentistry. It can be used for direct and indirect restorations; the difference between it and Adhese Universal is that the DC version can be used in areas hard to reach with the curing light.

As such, from a routine restorative standpoint, Adhese Universal DC is a great choice to use as an adhesive in areas where you’re placing a post since there is almost no way to get the curing light to reach to the depths of the tip of the post space. There are also frequently nooks and crannies in my indirect restorative procedures where I can’t reliably get a light to cure. Adhese Universal DC comes in clutch in those areas! Also, zirconia restorations that I’m bonding in always give me pause. Can I reliably reach my curing light through 1.5 to 2 mm of zirconia to cure? I just don’t know, and having a dual-cure assurance is a great thing.

Adhese Universal DC comes in bottles and unit-dose applications, but not in the Viva Pen that regular Adhese Universal comes in, which is OK with me; I actually prefer a unit dose for this particular adhesive. My assistants know that if we’re placing a post or a deep core, grab the unit dose!

Sometimes bonding gets complex, but with the Adhese Universal family of bonding agents, it doesn’t have to. We have the Adhese Universal Viva Pen for places we can get the curing light to, and Adhese Universal DC for where we can’t.

Alpha AI Slicing Software by Ackuretta

One of the things that has changed my practice workflows more than anything over the last five to seven years is 3D printing. The ability to quickly create models, surgical guides, restorations, and nightguards has been unbelievable. These advantages are not without drawbacks, though. 3D printing is a mess—literally. Sticky resin has dripped all over my lab flooring. Spills and spatter happen. Prints fail, and then you have to do some maintenance on your printer. It’s a whole thing, and it can be frustrating. Anything that can make it all a little easier is a win for me, and Alpha AI Slicing Software by Ackuretta is one of those things. 

Most 3D printers have proprietary software that you use to load your prints and set them up, get your supports in place, and send the sliced file to the printer. With most of these, you have to understand some things about 3D printing to know for sure if a print is set up for success. Alpha AI takes a lot of that management out of it. It uses artificial intelligence to get prints appropriately positioned, supported, and sliced for successful printing.

Alpha AI isn’t proprietary, which means that while I happen to use the Ackuretta Sol 3D printer, you don’t necessarily have to—Alpha AI can export the supported and sliced model as its own STL file to be printed by any printer. It makes things much simpler!

Printing failures can be expensive in wasted resin materials, time spent on double work, cleaning printers, and even janitorial fees. Alpha AI can reduce the printing failures significantly. By simplifying and automating, a dentist can delegate these prints to team members. To me, the point when 3D printing becomes a real revolution in a practice is when I don’t have to be the one doing all of it!

Alpha AI is available to download from Ackuretta’s website. It has a nominal cost per year; preventing a couple of failed prints easily pays for the cost of the subscription. I know science fiction and the media tend to portray AI as the enemy, but it’s hard for me to imagine a world where the AI tech we use to set up our dental 3D prints becomes sentient and takes over the world. Call me a skeptic, I guess, but as long as I don’t have to welcome our new AI overlords, Alpha AI is a winner!

Editor's note: This article appeared in the February 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, is a graduate and former faculty member of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry. Author of Dental Economics’ Pearls for Your Practice column, Dr. Austin lectures nationally on products, dental technology, online reputation management, and social media. He maintains a full-time restorative dentistry private practice in San Antonio, Texas. You may contact Dr. Austin at [email protected].

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