The crowns & bridges produced at Glidewell Laboratories are now made using essentially 100 percent CAD/CAM technology, and I really notice the difference in the restorations I get back from the lab. The crowns just fit, and if I give them enough reduction, I can always get contours like a natural tooth. Before we started using CAD/CAM, the most frequent complaint we used to hear from dentists was about our consistency, so this technology really has been a game changer for our lab and our customers.
More than a decade ago, new customers would tell me that they would get three great crowns from us and then two so-so crowns, then another great one, then one ugly one, and so on. We were doing everything we could to fix those issues, but the underlying problem went deeper than our lab: there simply weren’t enough trained dental technicians available. There are currently only 18 accredited dental laboratory programs in the U.S. If that number seems shockingly low to you, it’s because it is. That number is down 62 percent since 1992 — a drastic decrease for that 20-year period. In fact, today these programs currently produce only about 300 graduates annually for the entire U.S. To meet our demand, we had to hire people off the street and train them ourselves. But it takes time to develop as a technician, just as it does as a dentist.
In 2007, Ivoclar Vivadent’s IPS e.max® was introduced into our lab, and with this first high-strength, monolithic restoration came the day where a machine did most of the work. Ideal contours were found in CAD libraries, and dentists just had to give CAD technicians enough room to drop them in. Then in 2009, Glidewell launched BruxZir® Solid Zirconia, signaling the next wave of the monolithic revolution. A year later, nearly all of our PFM crowns were produced using CAD/CAM as well.
Thanks to our president and CEO’s unwavering commitment to technology, we are able to give you, our dentists, the consistency and predictability you’ve always wanted. Dentists often tell me that a BruxZir crown fits better than any other crown they have prescribed. It’s a good time to be a dentist, and it’s a great time to work with a lab that has fully embraced the consistency of CAD/CAM dentistry.