Georges Sara, Stoneglass Industries

Darren Littlefair – Chief Technical Officer, Stoneglass

What is Digital Dentistry?

I was lucky to start my apprenticeship in the late 80’s at the time when 3D computer aided design was taking hold and revolutionising the mechanical engineering and design industry.  Now it is exciting to be actively involved in driving that same phenomenon in the Dental industry.

At that time, engineering professionals did not relinquish their fundemental skills and knowledge to “Digital”; instead they embraced CAD CAM technology as a way to better themselves.  In fact it was Computer Aided Engineering in general that led to the emergence of the Project Engineer – the multi-skilled engineer.  A design engineer could design, draft, 3D model, cost, and check for manufaturability, all in the one process, and colloborate with other engineers in a more clear, precise and concise way.

How different the introduction of CAD CAM in the Dental Industry has been, particularly in the Surgery and the Laboratory.  I have seen many professionals in the dental industry abandon their reliance on traditional techniques, and their extraordinary attention to detail, to CAD CAM technology.  Often with only anecdotal evidence that digital is better than analog, and CAD CAM is more accurate than traditional techniques.  I believe that this is largely down to speed at which CAD CAM has taken hold of dentistry and the relentless push from vendors trying to get a stranglehold on this new market.  Unfortunately much of the sales and marketing misrepresents the true value of digital dentistry for the sake of selling software and hardware and not to better the profession.

The decision to use CAD CAM technology in dentistry should be looked at objectively and with much thought into what digital dentistry is, or more importantly, with the question “what will CAD CAM do to help me?” asked and answered.  All of the benefits of digital dentistry can be quantified, don’t just rely on a sales rep saying it will improve the accuracy of what you do.

At Stoneglass our philosphy is different. Embrace what knowledge we have, use traditional where it works well, and use CAD CAM technology to improve and complement what we do to become better at it.  We want to help professionals to become multi-skilled, to help improve communication between everybody involved in the patient’s treatment plan, as well as provide the highest quality prosthetics.

To that end, our R&D activities have been geared towards producing software, workflows, products and manufacturing processes that provide:

– improved communication

– better colloboration

– traceability

– predictability

– education

– enhancement of traditional skills

That is what digital dentistry means to Stoneglass and what defines PDC.

Research and Development

Our fundamental belief at Stoneglass is that development starts with a patient needing a specific Prosthetic to return to living a normal confident daily life.

So what better way in leading the research and development with live cases, that are tracked through out the full complete clinical/ design, manufacturing, patient issue process.

The core principles that have been followed with our clinical workflows include:

  • accurate measurement of the oral anatomy,
  • correct vertical dimensions,
  • correct occlusion for function,
  • final tooth position,
  • that leads to a confident smile.

With Prosthetic Design Centre, the final prostheses is designed from these 5 core principles.

Technologies that are specific to our R&D program are-

  • CAD software
  • CAM software
  • 5 axis machining
  • 3+2 axis machining
  • Sintering
  • 3D printing
  • CMM measuring
  • White Light scanning
  • Dental materials
  • And new space age materials

Quality Control Systems

Prosthetic Design Centre is a suite of Computer Aided Design tools developed from the ground up by Stoneglass Industries and built to design a large variety of dental restorations. Therefore you need to be able to quality control from scanned data, design data to real life product that finally finds its way into the patient.

All CAD tools within PDC are designed with the end product in mind. Important design considerations such as function and aesthetics are established early within the process and used to dictate the final restoration. Quality control protocols have been implemented to QA all processes. Setting tooth position is the most important application we do as prosthodontic architects, therefore everything that requires a final tooth position (FTP), must be articulated. This protocol allows the prosthodontic architect to be able to quality control the use of the CAD tools within the virtual software.

The majority of products design in PDC has quality control procedures throughout the virtual design process. Stoneglass has developed a special scanning jig / algorithm that is used when scanning the maxillary and mandibular cast. The scanning protocol does not require the user to put two models together and then scan them to represent that they are articulated. The scanning protocol requires that the articulator and the scanner must be calibrated together, so the virtual articulator in the software actually represents what is in the analog (real life) articulation. If you decide to close or open the vertical dimension in the virtual software, then this can be represented also on the actual analog articulator.