The Truth about Digital Dentures

Dental CAD/ CAM dates back to the mid-1980’s and has become the standard in the dental industry for treatments such as crown & bridge. Surprisingly, dentures are still made by hand in a process documented by Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made – Dentures”.

After seeing this video, one thing is clear; Digital Dentures are inevitable. The benefits of CAD/CAM technology will soon be available in the denture industry which will drastically change the way that dentures are made.  Advances in the dental industry such as intra-oral scanning, CAD design and CAM (milling & 3D printing) will soon be available in the denture industry, the only question is…. When?

THE EARLY ADOPTERS – Success? 

Some early adopters of this technology have claimed that  “Only AvaDent Digital Dentures takes the time and fuss our of getting your new denture”  and “DENTCA uses new cutting edge CAD/CAM technology to revolutionize denture production. Research has shown our advanced 3D software provides increased accuracy, creates more comfortable dentures for patients, and allows you to complete a full denture case 2.5x faster.”  But separating a marketing claim from reality is often the greatest challenge.

At Canadian Denture & Implant Centres, we are excited for the future of digital dentures in Calgary. We are committed to providing patient with the highest quality denture services using methods that produce the best results! When we have statistical evidence to believe that our existing method of making dentures no longer produces the best results, we will change our process.

Our Calgary Denture experts have looked closely at both Avadent & Dentca systems and have concluded that the advantages of digital technology are not yet being realized by patients.

THE RESEARCH – University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

A recent study “Removable Prosthodontics in the Digital Age” by Robert D Grady D.D.S., F.A.C.P Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry looked to compare technology and techniques used in the fabrication of digital complete dentures. The study is extremely well done and compares the 3 systems: Avadent, Dencta and Traditional Dentures.

Conclusion: Traditional dentures produced the best results and the knowledge required to complete all three methods is the same.

While Avadent & Dentca have improved the lab process by using CAD, the skill required by the denturist / dental professional remains the same. It is important to note that the traditional dentures were also made entirely by University dental students. You would assume that by taking the design portion away from the students the results would be better with Avadent & Dentca, however that was not the case. Avadent & Dentca are targeted to dental professionals who complete an average of 10 dentures per year. Our Calgary Denture experts each complete over 200 dentures per year. Therefore, we expect that our traditional dentures would rate even higher than those completed by students of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

While we have had the opportunity to offer our patients digital dentures for the last 2 years, the benefits simply aren’t there yet. The problem with all 3 of these systems is that they rely heavily on the denturist / dentist to record accurate patient information. All systems virtually use the same method for recording patient information by using traditional impressions, not intra-oral scanning which is the most accurate. Avadent and Dentca are simply scanning traditional impressions, not gathering more accurate patient data through digital means. Because none of these methods use digital inputs, the product can only be as good as the information going into in which depends entirely on the professional recording the information. Until we can improve our methods of obtaining accurate patient data, we feel that digital dentures will not produce better results than traditional dentures. We continue to monitor the industry regularly and attend conventions world-wide to ensure that we provide our Calgary denture patients with the best dentures available.

Our Denture Experts are excited and are patiently waiting for a truly revolutionary system to emerge to provide digital denture solutions. We believe that the future is bright with 3D scanning and 3D printers in the world of Dentures.

How do you think dentures will be made in 2-5 years? Do you think they will fit better? What common denture problems could digital dentures avoid?