We all have witnessed these curves of adaptation in our daily life. I remember when I bought my first mobile phone in 1999. I had a 60-minutes-per-month plan and I only turned it on during emergencies. Fifteen years later, I would rather lose my wallet than my iPhone. We routinely communicate through text messaging and e-mail, read books on digital devices, and keep track of friends and family through social media. We live in a world that was unimaginable 15 years ago.
It seems that dentistry follows a slower path when it comes to adaptation of new technology. The majority of dentists are pragmatic and conservative when considering paths that can not only dramatically change the way they were trained to practice, but also can come with significant financial investments. However, like any profession, we are lucky to have visionaries who help us move toward the future.
When I graduated dental school in 2000, I had never heard of digital impressions. Although the first chairside CAD/CAM device was introduced 15 years earlier, it was not on my radar (or any of my instructors? at that time). Being the technology enthusiast that I am, it certainly did not take long for me to find out about this technology. I now have been using digital impressions for the last 10 years.
I have witnessed many changes over the last 10 years of taking digital impressions. This technology is now easier to use, and dentists look at all of the available product choices more closely than ever. New materials and technology are available to us for same-day dentistry, and the emergence of dental laboratories accepting digital impressions have changed the way that they create restorations for dentists. Now we can be true digital partners with our laboratories.
Has the time come for dentistry to cross the chasms and adapt digital dentistry? Are we moving to a point where this technology is going to be ?mainstream dentistry? both in private practice and in universities?
It is exciting to see all the digital impression changes and choices available to us, and it is even more exciting to witness the profession adapt to a new digital world?a world unimaginable to many of us not so many years ago.
Michael Skramstad, DDS, is in private practice in Orono, MN and performs all aspects of cosmetic, implant, and family dentistry with a particular focus on esthetic and CAD/CAM computerized dentistry. A product consultant for multiple dental companies, he has had the pleasure to test and evaluate many products before market launch and has published numerous articles on dental materials and CAD/CAM.