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Digitalisation is one of the most important trends that have reshaped dentistry in recent years. Copenhagen-based dental company 3Shape has been one of the major players in the field and is advancing continuing education about digital dentistry to a new level with its 24H Global Symposium, which will take place as an exclusively online event on 19 and 20 June. Prior to the symposium, Dental Tribune International spoke with Lars Christian Lund and Dr Rune Fisker, senior vice presidents at 3Shape.
3Shape has been at the forefront of digital dentistry over the past two decades. What have been the greatest milestones that your company has achieved during that time?
Fisker: As a company, 3Shape has surpassed many of the milestones we set for ourselves when Nikolaj Deichmann and Tais Clausen first started the company in 2000. However, there are always new goals to achieve. CAD/CAM workflows and solutions present endless opportunities for making dental treatment more predictable, efficient, profitable and, in the words of Dr Alan Jurim, “fun”.
Our intra-oral scanner, TRIOS, is the industry’s benchmark for scanning speed. It has also been one of the intra-oral scanners featured in the accuracy studies that have documented digital impressions as being as good as, or even better than, analogue impressions.
TRIOS power has meant that doctors and laboratories can plan and create everything from implants to clear aligners. In addition, TRIOS is, as far as we know, the only digital impression solution on the market used in scanning fully edentulous patients. Dentures are being made with totally digital workflows based on TRIOS intra-oral scans and our denture software. That is remarkable!
And remember, TRIOS is still the market’s only wireless intra-oral scanner.
“If we agree that treatment quality is paramount, then professionals should strongly consider digital workflows”
―Dr Rune Fisker, 3Shape
Despite the growing trend towards digitalisation in dentistry, the majority of dental professionals have not yet transitioned into digital dentistry. What do you think are the greatest advantages of going digital and the major obstacles to the move?
Fisker: We find that the majority of professionals who haven’t gone digital are concerned about the quality of the treatment based on a digital impression.
When intra-oral scanners were first introduced, there were questions around the accurate capturing of subgingival margins or the lack of physical models in order to verify a restoration’s fit before seating.
Studies have since proved these concerns unnecessary. Clinical studies and the documentation of successful digital workflows by colleagues are important in order to address such concerns. Seeing is believing. Peer-reviewed articles in dentistry are very important because we work in an industry driven by word of mouth―no pun intended.
If we agree that treatment quality is paramount, then professionals should strongly consider digital workflows. Studies and clinical cases have consistently documented the quality and predictability of digital workflows. Unlike analogue workflows, with digital workflows, the planning, design, production, and in the case of surgeries, the placement are all pre-planned using surface and CBCT data. The data is saved and never changes. Software cannot move things around or change measurements, unless you tell it to do so. Analogue workflows, however, require gypsum models that can be lost, chipped or contaminated. Digital workflows are uniquely suited to dentistry because they enable not only proper planning and better communications but also the proper documentation of the treatment, if a review is ever needed.
Lund: Another reason why dental professionals are reluctant to go digital is that they are concerned about the cost of scanners, especially in view of the current financial climate. We suggest that they speak to colleagues who have already invested in a scanner. They will be surprised to learn that the investment in an intra-oral scanner with the right software pays back very quickly. They can also take their own expenses and insert them into 3Shape’s ROI calculator. Here, they will see that investing in a scanner is a vehicle not only to improve quality of treatment and patient experience but also to increase profit, in many instances, within a year or less.
What measures is 3Shape taking to promote the use of digital technologies among dental professionals, and what role do you think dental education and the symposium in particular play in this regard?
Lund: 3Shape was founded on innovation. We are driven by research and development. As a company, we have the most developers in the industry; we have more than 80 patent families, but we have found that professionals need more help in using digital technology then has previously been available to them. Especially when we keep developing new features and solutions every year, it can be hard to keep up.
For the past couple of years, we have begun focusing more on education. We expanded the 3Shape Academy and launched the 3Shape Community. We get out and teach classes. We created an online learning hub, and now, we will be hosting an around-the-clock learning marathon, the 3Shape 24H Global Symposium.
Many professionals want to go digital, but hesitate because they have no place to turn for digital dentistry education. We hope to become a go-to resource for their digital learning. We are becoming just as innovative in our educational offerings as we are in our product development.
Although the range of digital dentistry products on the market is growing, there are few universal solutions for dentists or laboratories available. How is 3Shape addressing this?
Fisker: Dental professionals want to choose the solutions they use to treat their patients. Therefore, we stay active in creating software integrations with other companies, including our competitors. 3Shape’s open ecosystem has the industry’s widest range of integrations with third-party implant libraries, tooth libraries, orthodontic treatment providers, clear aligners, bracket libraries, 3D printers, milling machines and more. No other company in the dental industry is as dedicated to opening the doors to treatment opportunities for professionals. Within an industry that is constantly evolving, it is best to be open.
In general, the dental industry is expected to experience significant growth in digital dentistry technologies in the future. What will the future look like, and how do you see the future of your systems and product solutions?
Fisker: We expect dentists to adopt intra-oral scanning technology very quickly now, and we see that the majority of dentists who have not already gone digital are considering doing so within the next few years―similar to what we have already seen from dental laboratories.
3Shape will continue to lead the way. We are pioneers at heart, so we will keep pushing the boundaries.
3Shape is lucky in that we have many dental professionals willing to work with us on our product development. We conduct a tremendous amount of user research and take field trips to laboratories and practices. We hold co-creation workshops where dental professionals get to drive product development and ideas. So, we are confident that the solutions we develop will continue to provide the most predictable and efficient outcomes.
“The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has shown us that the transition to digital platforms can happen fast”
―Lars Christian Lund, 3Shape
In the aftermath of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it is likely that countries worldwide will suffer an economic crisis and show a negative trend with regard to dental investments. Which short- and long-term effects do you foresee for your business and for the whole dental industry?
Lund: The pandemic has sadly impacted our industry and our way of life. However, the tide seems to be turning. Recent numbers from the American Dental Association show that businesses are beginning to reopen at a very fast pace.
The pandemic will lead to a change in the way practices need to operate. The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has shown us that the transition to digital platforms can happen fast, and the need for solutions which reduce the risk of infection and ensure dentists a fast return on their investment has increased. For this, intra-oral scanners and fully digital workflows are ideal.
Editorial note: The 3Shape 24H Global Symposium will start on 19 June at 13:00 CEST. Dr Rune Fisker and Lars Christian Lund will give the first webinar and introduce participants to 3Shape’s vision for the future of digital technologies in dentistry. In total, the symposium will feature 30 webinars in nine different languages that will be broadcast live over the course of 24 hours. Attendance is free of charge. Dental professionals can register for the webinars of their choice at www.3shapesymposium.com.