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Digital dentistry – a proven and effective tool


Research1 predicts that by 2016 the proportion of dentists using digital imaging systems will have doubled since 2009, with adoption being driven by the market for digital sensors. This research is supported by the BDIA New Technology & Trends Survey 2013,2 which reported that 50% of dentists had purchased intraoral digital sensors, an increase of 3% on the previous year. The same survey suggests the continuing penetration of digital techniques, as it predicts intraoral digital cameras and digital sensors as the products most dentists intend to purchase in the coming 12 months.

This increasing familiarity with digital technology is now encouraging practitioners to embrace other digital products and techniques, which are able to improve diagnosis and workflow, such as 3D panoral scanners, intraoral systems and CEREC.

CEREC's surgery based scanning and milling system has been available for 30 years, but in the last ten, its advances have been remarkable, with CEREC taking major steps forward in terms of accuracy and longevity of restorations. CEREC allows practitioners to design and mill a range of restorations including crowns, bridges, inlays and onlays in the surgery. Now further advances are making it fully integrated with implant planning software. This has facilitated an expansion of disciplines to include the in-surgery milling of surgical guides and custom abutments.

The clinical efficacy of CEREC restorations has been well researched, with studies undertaken to test longevity, strength and wear characteristics. In one study3 66 Class II CAD/CAM ceramic inlays were placed in 27 patients. At the ten-year recall 25 patients with 61 inlays (92%) were available for evaluation. The results showed 54 (89%) of the 61 inlays evaluated still functioned well. During the follow-up period seven (11%) required replacement for the following reasons: four inlay fractures, one cusp fracture, one with endodontic problems and another with postoperative symptoms.

The currently available clinical data demonstrates the efficacy of CEREC restorations, even using the materials and technology that were available ten years ago. Further advances over the last five years have increased the accuracy and long term functionality of CEREC restorations.

3D imaging produces images with greater clarity than conventional X-rays, which can be manipulated in a variety of ways to enhance diagnosis, resulting in more accurate treatment planning as well as assisting in the early detection of disease. The ability to identify anatomical structures and landmarks has been an important advancement in the software. The immediate availability of digital images also make them a great tool when explaining treatment recommendations to patients.

Digital equipment is now within reach of all practices and dentists can test the benefits of the digital workflow for relatively little financial investment. Dentists should seek guidance from experts and none are more equipped to perform this role than the team at Henry Schein Dental. This team has access to all the latest equipment from the world's leading digital manufacturers. They can advise, supply, install and provide after-sales support to help practices get the most from their digital equipment.

Digital dentistry offers significant benefits to both dentists and patients and is now routinely used for diagnostics, implants, endodontics, orthodontics and general day-to-day treatments This technology can effectively meet many clinical requirements. It is easily integrated into practices' current systems and can significantly improve a practice's workflow and communication, both internally and with laboratories. Digital technology has made enormous advances in the last decade and is not to be feared. Its integration can vastly improve efficiency and effectiveness in a modern dental practice.


  1. iDate Research: Intelligence Behind the Data. iData Markets for Dental Operatory Equipment 2010.

  2. British Dental Industry Association. BDIA New Technology & Trends Survey 2013.

  3. Sjögren G, Molin M, van Dijken J W . A 10-year prospective evaluation of CAD/CAM manufactured (Cerec) ceramic inlays cemented with a chemically cured or dual-cured resin composite. Int J Prosthodont 2004; 17: 241–246.

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Digital dentistry – a proven and effective tool. Br Dent J 217, 699 (2014).

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