How an open CAD/CAM system and the digital workflow benefits this Calif. dentist

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At his practice in Pleasant Hill, CA, Chris Petrush, DDS, has been a CAD/CAM user for nine years.

"For a single crown or two crowns, which is really the bread and butter for, I would say, most general dentists, I think you have to have CAD/CAM in the office and the digital workflow really helps to make that happen," Dr. Petrush told me in a recent chat.

Chris Petrush, DDS.Chris Petrush, DDS.

Dr. Petrush's view of the digital workflow changed completely about a year ago when he switched his practice to the in-office solution. He believes that incorporating it, along with the iTero intraoral scanner from Invisalign, has made the digital workflow much better for his practice, as well as for his wife, Monike Elek, DDS, who also practices with him.

"I talked to the Align rep at an event in Las Vegas, and I said, 'Well, what milling system works with the iTero?' He told me any open-source system would work, then said, 'Well, for example, the in-office solution.' That was the first time I had heard about that, so I broke away and sat down with a beverage and I Googled that system and started investigating it."

What Dr. Petrush found was not only an answer in terms of an open-source system but also the missing piece in his push to expand his digital workflow in his practice. Along with an Invisalign expansion, the practice, Diablo Valley Dental, features cone-beam CT (CBCT) and 3D printing capabilities if Dr. Petrush ever chooses to make his own surgical guides.

The switch in technology also included working even more closely with Glidewell and its BruxZir Now line of zirconia, which the company said is the only presintered zirconia on the market and is exclusive to Glidewell milling systems.

"I will say that the Glidewell crowns that I've been making, and I've made over 50 of them, including one that's in my mouth right now, the designs have come out nicer and the anatomy is nicer [than previous experiences]," Dr. Petrush said. "I've needed fewer adjustments. It's just been all around a much easier product to use."

When I asked Dr. Petrush about the marketing of his digital capabilities, he told me that satisfied patients have been his biggest marketing edge over nearby dental practices.

"It's always been an advantage," Dr. Petrush said of CAD/CAM. "Yeah, the patients love it. Nobody likes coming to see the dentist. If they can get everything done in one appointment as opposed to coming back a second time, I mean, that's just the icing on the cake with us.

"I mean, it is on our website that we provide same-day crowns, but I don't feel like I compete with anybody. On the street where I practice, there are probably three dozen dentists and I really don't care. I just can control what's in front of me, and that's controlling that patients have a better experience with the same-day crown."

Part of that patient experience is the "wow factor" that Dr. Petrush believes comes along with the technology in his practice.

"The patients watch me design the crowns. I can't tell you how many times the patients will say, 'Doctor, you're more than just a dentist. You're an artist. You're so talented.' Now, you and I know anybody can be trained how to do this, but I'm going to let them think about talent," Dr. Petrush said with a smile. "There's a lot of value in them thinking about the talent I have. I really believe there are a lot of things on the patient's mind when he or she walks out, including that the doctor designed and made that restoration."

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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