The Road Not Taken

In light of the recent news regarding the questionable marketing tactics used by a Korean dental clinic, we have witnessed the beginning of the deep chasm forming between the aspirations of the dentist, and the desires of the patients. Small altercations have grown to a full-blown virtual war and, ironically, the attacks launched by the vocal dentists have amalgamated a sizable public support for the other side. Within this turmoil, both real and baseless knowledge are chaotically launched in every which way, and the confusion only seems to have helped further consolidate the existing beliefs of all parties.

This is a multifaceted discussion, the analysis of which requires a layered deconstruction of topics including dental function, form, health, and hygiene. For me, however, the biggest epiphany came from the aggravated tone of quite a few dentists toward one specific aspect of the debate: CAD/CAM. The negativity of dentists toward the use of dental CAD/CAM has never been more elucidated, when they passive-aggressively worked their disdain of the technology into their explanations as to why the commercial claims were bogus. “Master dentists,” they would say, “doesn’t use CAD/CAM because the crowns are not as accurate/aesthetic/[insert other adjectives here] as traditional crowns hand-crafted by skilled technicians.”

We have been here before. This blatant condescension has been all too common throughout my time studying this subject. Even with the rapid advancements in recent times and the massive potential to improve, a lot of practitioners are set in their belief that CAD/CAM cannot and will never work for dentistry. I can understand the sentiment to an extent; how frustrating it must be for an artist that his work goes unappreciated. Then again, not accepting is one thing, but to cynically attack a new technology is an act that has always confounded me.

So we’ve been here before. But this time, it was different. This time, there was a hint of a demand of which the traditional method cannot satisfy: speed. Granted, the size of the market is still unknown, but I would argue that the veil of the threat only exacerbates the anxiety. CAD/CAM aesthetics can improve over time, but layered crowns still need those hours in the oven. In any case, the market has spoken up; what we are seeing now is the frantic attempt to shut it up, and that’s not how it works.

So how does it affect us, the dirty, blasphemous believers? It simply doesn’t.

We learn, we do, and we learn some more.

Nothing changes.