Posted on: 28 July 2015
Engineers and architects have long been using computer-aided design (CAD) programs, but CAD's applications are no longer limited to these fields. As CAD and computer-aided manufacturing advance, more and more professionals, including oral surgeons, are finding these programs have applications for their field. If you're an oral surgeon, learning CAD/CAM will enable you to offer custom dental implants -- which have benefits for your patients and could set your practice apart from others.
CAD and CAM
CAD is the use of complex computer software to create detailed 2D and 3D models. As CAD is adapted to different fields, there's no longer one single CAD application but several different ones specialized for different industries. Most CAD programs, regardless of the industry they're used in, have steep learning curves. Once you master a CAD application, however, you'll be able to create digital renderings you otherwise would be unable to make.
CAM advances CAD by turning digital models into physical objects. In oral surgery settings, CAM uses 3D printers to create crowns and implants right in an office. While CAM requires additional hardware, namely a 3D printer, it's easy to use if you're already familiar with CAD.
Together, a CAD and CAM lets you make implants in your office while a patient waits. Not only does this eliminate the need for two visits (an initial fitting and a second to put the implant in), but it also has health and, potentially, cosmetic benefits for patients.
The Health Benefits of Custom Implants
First, custom implants can be built precisely to a patient's mouth. With a CAD and CAM, you have complete control over how the implant will turn out.
If you don't know how to use CAD and CAM, then you have to take an impression and send it to a lab. The lab will make an implant from the impression that will work, but this process doesn't have the digital accuracy of CAD and CAM.
A perfectly fit dental implant is less likely to have complications than one that's not quite as well suited to a person's mouth, thus reducing the chance of failure and need for involved post-op care.
The Potential for Engraved Implants
Second, if you wish, you could offer custom engraved implants. Mimicking natural teeth, implants usually have grooves in the top of them. When an impression is used to make implants, the impression grooves mirror natural grooves, which appear in an abstract manner. With CAD and CAM, however, you could make these grooves into letters or symbols.
Engraving a dental implant might sound strange, but custom dental work is growing.
Of course, when you install an implant, you need it to match the height of the patient's other teeth. If you leave the implant higher than the other teeth, it'll wear down the tooth opposite it. If you leave it lower than the other teeth, the tooth opposite it will grow in and become longer.
Therefore, you'll want to make sure your engraving is deep enough to survive the filing process. When the implant's first printed from the 3D printer, it might appear too deep. After it's installed, though, the grooves will be a little less deep; they should be about the same depth as grooves that are on natural teeth.
According to the New York Times, only 10 percent of dentists use CAD and CAM, making this a great way to set your oral surgery practice apart from others in your area. Learn how to use this new technology and begin offering custom dental implants, and you'll have a service that few other oral surgeons and dentists can advertise.Share