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Dr. Julia Latham: Why I Invested in 3D Printing

Aug. 24, 2022

What are my practice needs? When it comes to living in a tech-driven world, Dr. Julia Latham made the conscious decision to jump in head first and add 3D printing to her practice.

How did she do it, you might ask? She started by assessing her own practice’s needs. The ability to provide “same-day service” for her patients is of primary importance, and she realized early on that reducing the number of visits to the office is often a huge practice builder.

“Three-dimensional printing has eliminated the time wasted in shipping and has given us control over when a case is ready to be delivered. For this reason, the ability to 3D print is essential to our office.“

Deciding to invest Her decision to adopt 3D printing came naturally, when COVID-19 began to disrupt her ability to provide timely care, due to shipping and turnaround delays from laboratories. She sought a better way to provide faster care that also optimized her practice output and increased internal efficiencies by involving dental assistance in the whole 3D workflow. For Dr. Latham, the ability to print models for retainers, nightguards, diagnostic casts and aligners was a game changer.

Narrowing it down When determining the right 3D printing solution, it’s important to consider such questions as “what will I be printing, and how often?,” “do I have the personnel in place to support in-house 3D printing,” and of course “how big or small will my 3D printing area be?” Asking these types of questions will help narrow down the available options and choose the right 3D printing solution.

What to know for beginners Dr. Latham tells us that, often the biggest challenges when learning a new technology, is just that. Learning it. Make sure your whole dental team completes initial training, which will help in the longrun. Even after we feel comfortable with the digital workflow, conducting regular training will help the entire dental team (not just your team lead) hone their skills. Scheduling quarterly training with the manufacturer is a great way to achieve this.

Tips for getting started Once you’ve invested and are ready to get started, it is important to delegate a team lead (or leads) for this particular “area” of your practice. You’ll want to schedule training for yourself, your team lead, and the dental team (if they are available) and come equipped with questions. Ensuring a secure internet connection, adequate workspace and proper ventilation, are just a few of the things that will need to be determined ahead of time. But, don’t worry, your manufacturer can guide you along the way (especially if it’s DMG).

Be sure to pay attention to email and/or mail notices from your 3D solution provider, that will tell you things like software updates and added features.

“After understanding this process, we chose to begin our printing journey with DMG’s digital 3D solution. Overall, we found that DMG integrates a complete workflow system with cloud-based software. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, and a validated process to create quality print results, is incorporated into an efficient, compact, easy, and user-friendly design.”

DMG DentaMile If “ease of use” is a non-negotiable at your practice, then Dr. Latham encourages clinicians to consider DMG DentaMile. It offers a complete solution to 3D printing, meaning software, hardware and materials all integrate together, seamlessly. With fast print speeds, ultra-fine resolution, networking capabilities and device fabrication options, it’s a great solution for both the novice or expert printer.

DR. JULIA LATHAM enjoys working with people of all ages and genuinely cares about improving the oral health of her patients. Dr. Latham grew up in New Zealand and moved across the Pacific in 2001 for her undergrad at Boston University, completing her DDS from the University of Michigan school of dentistry in 2011. While attending UMSoD, Dr Latham was the recipient of the William S. Kramer Award of Excellence, inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society and served as co-chair for the Scholars Program in Dental leadership where she led a capstone project collaborating students, faculty and community dentists to increase the efficiency and efficacy of local children’s clinic to help improve access to care. Additional honors include: the 2009 Periodontal Alumni Association Award for excellence in preventive periodontics and the 2011 American Academy of Oral Medicine Award.

Dr. Latham began her dental career as a general dentist for the US Navy serving in a military dental clinic in Rota, Spain and returned to the US to practice general dentistry with Tidewater Dental Group in Virginia Beach, VA. In 2014, Dr. Latham partnered with a successful muti-disciplined practice, Brush and Floss Dental Center in Stratford CT, where she now maintains a private practice focused in orthodontic and restorative care.

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