Digital dentistry has arrived!

The adoption of CAD/CAM dentistry is important because with the change in the economy, providers of care need to distinguish themselves in the eyes of patients.

by Katie McCann, DDS

The adoption of CAD/CAM dentistry is important because with the change in the economy, providers of care need to distinguish themselves in the eyes of patients.

Health-care providers must be better and faster if they want to achieve a sustainable practice. I want patients to describe my dental practice as patient- centered, efficient, and clinically excellent. In the early stages of my practice, I adopted CAD/CAM because of a life experience that happened to me as a teenager.

I was 14, entering high school, and enjoying a Fourth of July holiday with my family at a lake. We had arrived home after a weekend of boating, skiing, and camping when my friend asked me to take her for a ride on my brother's ATV.

My quick trip around the block turned into a disaster. I crashed into a utility pole, and fractured every bone from my eyebrows to my chin along with my right wrist. Four years and nine surgeries later, I finally was able to attend my high school graduation and speak, chew, and look like a normal teenager.

The incident shaped the way I am as a person, how I live my life, and how I strive to improve the lives of patients.

Patient-centered. Dentists must provide an exceptional patient experience to each and every patient that walks into the office. Multiple appointments, messy impression materials, and ill-fitting crowns are not my idea of a remarkable patient experience.

I provide patients with same-day dentistry, even with anterior restorations. With CAD/CAM, I can complete a quick mockup of the anterior teeth, scan it, prep the patient's teeth, and create a beautiful, life-changing smile in just a few hours.

I had a patient who traveled to my office by plane to have me reconstruct his smile. His teeth were gray-black from tetracycline staining as a child. He was the dad who would take the family photos but never be in them.

I was able to provide him with a new smile that changed his life. He looks younger and is more confident, and he wants to be in every family photo.

Efficiency. I have adopted my practice to fit into patients' lives, not the other way around. My patients do not have to travel to different offices to receive comprehensive, clinically excellent dental care.

During my day-to-day general dentistry practice, I heavily use CAD/CAM restorations. I am able to provide high-quality restorations in a single visit, diminishing the time patients are away from work or their families.

Clinically excellent. My main goal is to be considered a clinically excellent dentist. This is something I strive for every day, and digital dentistry helps me get there.

Have you ever seen a preparation magnified on a computer screen for your assistant and patient to see? The large image allows you to check the smoothness and clarity of margins, the amount of reduction, and the angulation of preparation. You cannot see that level of detail in an impression.

With CAD/CAM digital impressions, I know that I am creating a near perfect preparation every time. It holds me accountable for the work performed. I also love that I have total control over the shape, contour, contacts, and marginal integrity of the restoration.

Therefore, I am the sole person responsible for that result. My favorite material, lithium disilicate, has superior strength, wearability, and esthetics. As a result of incorporating CAD/CAM dentistry into my practice, I am a better dentist.

When most people hear my story, they feel sympathy for what I had to endure as a teenager. I am not denying that it was a difficult time for me and my family, but I am ever so grateful for the experience. It taught me core values that I live by every day and has given me passion for improving the lives and health of other people.

CAD/CAM has helped streamline my goals as a provider of care by making me more efficient, patient-centric, and a clinically excellent dentist.

Katie McCann, DDS, is the owner of multiple dental practices in Denver, Colo. She is also a mentor and associate doctor trainer. Her dental practices are supported by Pacific Dental Services. Dr. McCann can be reached at mccannk@pacden.com.

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