A couple of days ago, I had an interesting conversation with another dentist about the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of intraoral scanners for prosthodontists. The gist of his argument was that because the focus of prosthodontic restorations is the planning prior to the actual treatment, the only tangible benefit of using a digital scanner is speed. Since single-visit restoration isn’t his primary treatment protocol, purchasing an expensive digital scanner for a small boost in efficiency doesn’t make practical sense to him.
Of course through this paraphrase I am totally not doing justice to the sophistication of his reasoning, and I can kind of see where he’s coming from. In my view, however, this line of thinking relies heavily on the traditional principles and the status quo, both of which are slowly changing with newer studies and research. This is the same reason why gnathology, once the dogma of full-mouth rehabilitations, have seen a steady decline in clinical applications. Biology adaptation in combination with newer and better materials have allowed alternative (and often less time-consuming) treatments to be just as effective.
While I don’t necessarily agree with his viewpoints, this dentist (who I deeply respect) has shown me perhaps the most reasonable argument against the digital momentum in dentistry. The expertise in diagnosis and treatment planning cannot and will not (in the foreseeable future) be replaced by software. Essentially, when you go on a road trip, the most important parts are mapping out the hotels and points of interesting, and scheduling the activities for each day; as long as you can get to where you need to be, it doesn’t matter what kind of car you take.
Personally, I would prefer to get to interesting places faster, so I still think that the ride does matter.
Hsuan is a lecturer at CEREC Asia Training Facility and the founder of Tooth Faerie Club. He is from Vancouver, Canada, and is a fan of prosthodontics and profanity.