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Balancing human dexterity and experience with digitalisation in the dental sector 

The dental sector is undergoing a profound change, especially dental laboratories.

It is here where the prostheses are manufactured which patients will then wear in their rehabilitated mouths, be it a simple crown, a bridge or a whole denture.

This process, traditionally, was perfected by hand. The classic prosthetic is practically a craftsman or sculptor who models, carves, mills and customises his work with colour palettes so that it not only aesthetically fits the patient, but also in a functional way. That is, they fit, do not disturb and bite properly.

Today, the transition to technology and digital pro-cesses such as 3D printing or CAD / CAM technology are having immense consequen-ces in the sector. And probably irreversible. The figures are clear.

According to a study by Gaceta Dental, one of the most prestigious publications in dentistry, between 2012 and 2018, laboratories respectively increased between 20 and 36% the use of scanners; and between eight and 20% the use of milling / synthesizing units. A trend that is always increasing. To refuse the digital process would be foolish, to reject progress. Only a machine can create a piece that fits perfectly if we speak in absolute terms.

However, it is important not to underestimate the capabi-lities and advantages of the work of the human being. The management of Artedental in Tenerife, one of the clinics that today embraces the techno-logical shift towards digital, does not overlook the im-portance of manual work and the knowledge of a good prosthetic.

“No machine will be able to interpret with sensitivity a piece that is very important for a patient. Teeth are a fun-damental part of our aesthetic, core of the smile and reflection of hygiene. Actually, until they are lost, fractured or deteriorated, especially the frontal ones, they seem to be unimportant except for the pain suffered in the dentist. But they do have importance and a lot. If a person is ashamed of his smile, he will stop smiling, and that will affect his character, his social relationships and his self-confidence, ”explains Amaya Sáez, manager of this clinic in Puerto de la Cruz.

Human sensitivity does count when creating a prosthesis. Also in the digital process, technicians must control the programmes, design and know how to apply knowledge and experience when creating a computer model. They know what can be annoying, how to deal with possible complications and which solution or treatment is best in each case. In Artedental they have David Trujillo, a digital specialist who comes regularly from Madrid to treat the cases of the clinic, and with extensive experience as a dental technician.

Knowing how to combine both a good prosthetic and at the same time launching towards digital advancement is not a simple task for the clinics of the present. Training is scarce because there are still no official degrees, and the best technicians today are those who opted for digital change and, self-taught, have managed to control the technique, which adds to their experience in the traditional way of creating prostheses.

“In Artedental we bet on choosing the best in both cases,” says Sáez, “the adaptation to the new times, the understanding of the change of modern and digitalized society, but at the same time the confidence in manual, delicate and sensitive work” .