Frequently Asked Questions :: Digital Dental Leaders, Digital Only Dental Lab

Frequently Asked Questions

We realize that making the switch to the digital process will probably be a new concept for you. That's why we're here to help! Here are some of the most common questions we get asked about the process of going digital and the digital impression systems.

The Digital Impression Process

Does the digital process really save money?

Yes, for the majority of practices. If you end up utilizing the system fewer than 5 times a month then you probably will not end up saving money. Use our calculator to see how much you would save on impression material, shipping, lab fees, and time.

Does the digital process really save time?

Yes, every system has its own learning curve. At the beginning it may actually take you longer to scan than it would to take a traditional impression. Don’t give up! The scanners we promote will save you time at impression taking and the accuracy should dramatically improve your seating times as well. Packing, labeling, and outbound shipping time is eliminated.

How does the digital process work?

The digital process is quite simple. You take a scan of the patient’s mouth, fill out the digital RX, and click send. We receive your scan, design, mill, glaze/finish the restoration, and ship the model-free crown back to you within 3 business days.

How do I send a digital case?

The process varies from system to system. You can click here to see how to send us a case from your scanner. 

How long does it take to get a crown back?

You should receive your restoration within 3-5 business days. Our lab production time is 3 days.

Example: Submit case Monday at 11 am, case completed/shipped on Wednesday.

If sending a case after noon, please allow an additional day.

Example: Submit case Monday at 3 pm, case completed/shipped on Thursday.

Local cases are delivered on day 4. Cases requiring shipping are shipped on day 3 and arrive on day 5.

Do I have to change my prep style?

Not if you have the right kind of prep. ☺ Tissue management is vital to successful digital impressioning. We recommend that you keep the margin at or above the tissue when possible. With the esthetic all-ceramic materials, there is no longer a concern about gray lines where metal might show. With a translucent zirconia or lithium disilicate the restoration is able to take on the natural colors of the stump and enhance blending. Shoulder margins are preferred. Feather-edge margins compromise the strength of the ceramic where it thins out to a knife edge. Keeping uniform thickness is a key to all-ceramic restorations long-term success. The recommended prep guidelines are as follows:

  • 1mm shoulder at or above tissue
  • 1.5mm of reduction at incisal 3rd of axial and proximal walls
  • 1.5mm occlusal clearance 
  • Occlusal surface should not be flat. Trench occlusal surface to allow for uniform thickness of material from cusps to central fossa. 
Why is it more accurate?

The traditional impression taking process is tedious. The patient must maintain same position, material must set properly, and distortions and pulls are often difficult or impossible to see. When the laboratory receives the impression, models must be fabricated and the die must be trimmed. With all these precarious steps, the opportunity for error is very high. The design of a restoration to a scan of a model is far less likely to be accurate than a design to a scan directly from the patients mouth.

Why does a digital crown cost less?

The reduction in time and labor required to produce a digital crown, combined with the reduced liability of remakes, allows for a lower fee. We are able to eliminate inbound shipping, models, trimming and scanning.

Digital Impression Systems

Are digital systems there yet?

It all depends on where “there” is for you. With sales tactics that attack the other technologies, the war between competitors has created a false sense that nobody is there yet. Let us add some sanity to the discussion by offering an objective third party opinion on which systems are there and which ones are not. If you are looking for accuracy, affordability, and ease of use – yes, we are there! If you are looking for something to make a dental visit as appealing as a vacation – nope, we’re not there.

Are digital systems really accurate?

Yes! We have doctors tell us repeatedly that their crowns drop right in. The fit of a crown from a quality system is exceptional. The ability to dial in your parameters by microns has taken the stress out of seating appointments. Of course the accuracy of the crown will be limited to the quality of the scan.

Are all systems pretty much the same?

No, while all systems output a 3-dimensional file for digital use, not all systems use the same acquisition technology. Even within similar technologies you have outperforming systems. It is our goal to be able to offer objective third party analysis regarding the quality of scans and restorative success rates with the individual systems.

Are there systems I should avoid?

Not all systems are created equal. Even between two systems of similar quality, other considerations must be taken into account. What am I going to use this for? How many patients do I see in a month? What is my budget? What am I trying to accomplish by going digital? These are practice specifics that should be considered before a decision is made.

What about my friend who had a bad experience with…?

We have all heard the stories of those who spent lots of money on a scanner or another piece of equipment only to have it join the myriad of the deceased, obsolete, and unused equipment in storage. It’s as good as making payments on our car after it has been taken to the junk yard. Bad experiences are commonly the result of one or more of three problems: bad training, lack of support, or inferior technology. With the amazing technological advancements in recent years, not only has the image quality improved, but so has the learning curve. Manufacturers competing for the same customers are developing ways to provide better training and support but because of the dramatic increase in the number of users, often have trouble keeping up. Digital Dental Leaders offers ongoing training, support, and even helps steer you toward proven systems. Digital Dental Leaders wants to make sure that you avoid the costly pitfalls of inadequate training, support, and system familiarity. 

Why the big cost differences between systems?

Buying a scanner is similar to buying a car. Does two-tone appeal to you? Do you find the comfortable leather seats indispensable? Are you just looking for an economical way to get around? Is fuel efficiency your main concern? Digital impression systems have various features – from functionality to flashy, you decide which system fits you best. Some are color and some are not (does not impact accuracy). Some are video and some are not. Some require powder and some do not. Some have shade measurement capability and some do not. Some are certified to do Invisalign or other Ortho needs. Some have implant planning capability. Some include the intraoral camera. For the most part additional features come with additional cost.

Which one should I buy?

Buy the quality system that fits you best. This is not a one size fits all scenario. The needs of each practice are different. Discovering what your needs and goals are will help us identify which system is the best fit for you. Call us for a free phone consultation or visit.

Cost Savings and Financial Questions

How will I save money when I’m spending so much on the system?

When you add up the savings on your lab bill - impression material, trays, tips, and time - the savings are significant. Add to that a positive change to the patient experience, increased capacity, and more word of mouth referrals. With great financing terms many practices are able to increase cash flow immediately

Can I finance the system?

Most can qualify for great financing terms through the vender or third party. Many venders will offer a no payments for 6 months option. Taking advantage of this will allow you to integrate and become proficient with the technology before absorbing the cost. 

Shouldn’t I wait until they are more affordable?

Most of us did not wait to get a computer till you could buy one for $200. Nor did we wait to get a cell phone until they were free. Digital impressioning is the way of the future. The late adopters will someday find themselves struggling to catch up. 10-15% of offices already have digital impressioning systems. Making a purchase that puts you in the 10-15% gives you a competitive advantage and helps to promote the idea that you are technologically advanced. Waiting until you are in the 50% hardly helps to promote that perception.

What is my ROI?

There are many factors that contribute to this - how many restorations you do per month, the cost of your impression material, the length of time spent learning, the system you buy, the number of minutes saved, your previous vs. new lab fee, the redo rate, and office time saved. These are a few of the numbers involved in calculating the ROI. A doctor doing 20 crowns per month will find that the system can pay for itself in 6-10 months. If the volume is around 10 per month it may take 17-22 months for the system to pay for itself.

Producing Your Crowns

Why is a digital crown produced faster?

A truly digital crown is faster because your scan arrives at the lab very quickly. Since models are not necessary, design and milling can be started the same day you scan the patient. In the traditional workflow the case would have to be shipped, scheduled, have models fabricated and trimmed, and would not reach the design phase until day 3 at the very least.

Why does DDL only offer full-contour, model-free restorations?

It is our belief that the benefits of digital are maximized through a full-contour designed restoration that does not get seated to a model. Since the scan of the patient's mouth retains the highest level of accuracy, preserving the parameters of the crown fabricated to that scan is a priority. To adjust the restoration to a printed model is to stray from the digital workflow and introduces potential flaws.

Are crowns produced on a printed model still digital?

Many would claim that a crown produced from a digital scan on a printed model is still a digital crown. While this is true in the most technical sense, it prohibits the user from enjoying all the benefits of digital. True, the patient’s impressioning experience is digital, the scan arrives at the lab quickly, and the design is completed utilizing the accurate scan. The question is this, if you are providing the laboratory with the most accurate information possible in the form of the digital scan, then why would you want to undo any of that by allowing a technician to make subjective judgments by use of a model? Using a model is reverting from digital to analog. A truly digital crown relies on objective digital parameters for internal fit, contacts, and occlusion and not on subjective judgments and potentially faulty models.

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