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Chairside Milling: Overcome Your Hesitancy with Knowledge


According to the most recent responses to an ongoing dental technology survey being conducted by Inquantive Research, 27% of dentists own a digital impression system and 19% plan to purchase one in the next 12 months. That begs the question: How many of those dentists are milling chairside? And if you’re part of the 27%, are you?

My guess is that a lot of dentists are a little hesitant. After all, most dentists have a reliable lab partner who makes beautiful restorations…even though there’s a bit of a waiting period. Overcoming that hesitancy really just requires some education and training, comparison shopping, and an understanding of your own limitations. So, if you’re thinking about stepping into chairside milling, consider these suggestions:

  1. Take a course (or several). Before you even start shopping for a milling unit, try a course or two at a dental conference or through manufacturers, and talk to your colleagues who are already milling chairside. Find out what milling really entails and if it’s right for your practice and your patients.


  1. Shop around. Don’t jump into purchasing a milling unit without really doing your due diligence. Many options are out there and not all will meet your exact needs. Consider size of the unit, compatibility with your current technology, manufacturer training and support, and cost. Many manufacturers provide an ROI calculator to help put the unit’s price tag into perspective. You can start your shopping excursion at


  1. Be realistic. I recently read an article by a dentist who talked about how he’s attended lectures where speakers proudly present chairside milled restorations that are less than esthetic. It made the author wonder if the speakers were blinded by the coolness of the technology. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. In other words, carefully consider your skills and the unit’s capabilities before milling any restoration chairside; you may still have to send some to the lab to ensure patient satisfaction and your practice’s reputation.


Bottom line? Overcome any fear you have of chairside milling by doing your research. Maybe you’d like to start with this article by Dr. Tarun Agarwal, which discusses workflow and the technology’s advantages and disadvantages. Then talk to your dentist friends who’ve already made the leap. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel…and the sooner you’ll be able to add this technology to your practice.

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