3D Printing: 4 important steps to increase enthusiasm in your dental team

BY Aivy

Your office has a flow. You might have a front desk coordinator, assistants, sterilization technician, and consultant where everyone knows their job and how to do it well. Now, consider adding new technology to the mix. For some, learning digital dentistry can be like learning a foreign language. If you are looking to implement 3D printing into your workflow to print clear aligners, night guards, splints, surgical guides, and more, here are some ways to acquaint your team with the idea of incorporating cutting-edge, new technology in your dental practice.

Learning the basics of 3D printing technology as the head of your office

It is no secret that additive manufacturing has incredible potential in transforming your dental office into a versatile and flexible space to increase patient delight. There are endless ways you can incorporate the printing process into the services you provide to your patients. While the task of learning the details of 3D printers, 3D printing materials, and the digital workflow may be delegated to your team members, it is important for you to understand the basics of printing so that you may be able to educate your patients and emphasize to your team the advantages of this change in technology. 

An enthusiastic team stems from an enthusiastic leader, and while any change in a workplace may be frightening, it is important to reassure your team that they will have proper training and will learn the ins and outs of 3D printing to ensure that your office workflow will run smoothly. Be involved in the learning process. Take notes about the 3D printer, printing, and post-printing process so that your team sees that you are invested in this change. 

Introducing the idea to your team

Your team members might be opposed to the idea of implementing 3D printing into your clinic. They were all taught to take impressions with alginate and pour them up with stone, so making the transition to digital impressions and resin printing will be a change of pace. However, there are incredibly beneficial aspects of 3D printing such as digital impressions, increased storage space, and increased potential to create various dental appliances. Storage space can be a source of headache for many dental offices, and storing model boxes is a culprit for consumed space. Emphasizing the idea of digital storage to your team members, as well as simplified 3D intraoral scanning could be a great selling point. 

Delivering patient delight is at the forefront of every dental practice. A prominent fear of patients within the dental industry is needing impressions taken for their treatment. Using intraoral scanners to take digital impressions will be a huge sigh of relief among many patients. 

Acquiring the proper 3D printing technology

In-house aligner and appliance fabrication can give your office a great return on investment and will allow you to create high-quality, cost-effective, and customizable dental appliances. The best way to ensure that your team has a smooth transition from taking and pouring up impressions is to provide them with the best 3D printing technology for your office. Take time to research the types of appliances you want to make, the companies you might want to work with, and the overhead costs of disposable items. Intraoral scanners range in cost, user-friendly interface, and disposable items such as scanner sleeves. 

Choose a 3D printer that will work best for your workflow. Printing speed can vary between digital light processing (DLP) and stereolithography (SLA) printers, for example. What kind of trusted brand will you choose? SprintRay, Formlabs, and Phrozen have many printer and resin options at numerous price points. Give your team the tools that they will feel most comfortable using to thermoform and post-print. They will appreciate you valuing their input and will feel a sense of control in this change. 

Starting the process

Once you introduce the idea to your team and receive feedback based on the number of appliances you plan to offer, the number of prints you plan to make, and the comfort level of your team, begin the training process. Understand the basics of printing and break down the process to its simplest form. In-person training with a consultant is a tried and true way of easing the stress off of yourself and your team. If you are interested in having a DOH representative train your staff, click here or email us at Gauge your team’s interest and designate an assistant or consider hiring a lab technician to thoroughly understand the material so they may be able to train the others and troubleshoot when errors occur. Be patient and have fun as this is a very exciting and new experience for everyone.