There’s a question you should ask yourself before to think at which scanner to buy for your office. It’s something like «Do I really need a scanner? ».
Of course not, the obvious answer. But it’s getting less and less obvious, at a speed no-one should underestimate. The orthodontic market is trending towards customization of many appliances, and big company are buying shares of 3D printing companies, if not the whole companies to get ready to step into the future. Some braves colleagues already invested into in-office printing machines. It will soon come the time in which we will print ourselves the most of our appliances, straight in the office. The lab technicians will convert into appliance designers sending as a file to be printed in the proper material. This is not science-fiction, it’s a matter of … years.
How many? Actually I find it difficult to tell as the r-e-volution of the market is running faster and faster.
I am exactly at the mid-way of my thirties and I am one representative of that mid-generation who still knew the old pre-informatics and pre-internet world, but I was lucky enough to ride the wave of the new technologies, and grow up as a natural tech-enthusiast. It was not that easy to surf on the wave trying not to fall. In fact technology advances so fast. I perfectly understand the frustration that keep many older colleagues to not even try to approach the universe of possibilities that the intraoral scanner can open for an orthodontist. The longer we are in the profession, the more we get good in mastering some special techniques and habits. What’s truly difficult is not to learn something new but to abandon the comfort zone in which each of us enter after some years of practicing.
For a few more years price will be the good excuse to keep the most of us far away from the market of intraoral scanners (for those who question about precision, sorry it’s already a dead excuse: intraoral scanner are much better in detailing than any silicone and even more than alginate impressions). By the way, price should naturally drop with the market offer increasing year by year. Furthermore, freshly graduated orthodontist find it almost natural to embrace this technologies. The first wave of millennial that will soon produce many colleagues, will be a turning point. Patients are getting to know that they can have an impression without impression material, no gag-feeling but the cool and surprise feeling of looking at their teeth appearing live on the screen in front of them.
I use splashtop (https://www.splashtop.com/) to share with patients and parents the advantages of this technique, and useless to say the wow effect is guaranteed, especially for those parents who had orthodontics and know what means have a traditional impression. It’s an impressive source of inside marketing that gives, effortless, to intraoral scanner users an authority of cutting-edge doctors.
It’s unfair with respect to orthodontic culture and education, but the average parent take this for granted and it’s impressed by what he can perceive and understand as close to him. It’s not so far that time where mothers, speaking of their sons orthodontic therapy will exchange opinions like « I am a little worried, tomorrow we are going to take impression for my son. I remember how much I suffered while I had his age. I hope he will get through… » « Do you really still go to an orthodontist who still take that kind of impression? Mine took impression with a sort of camera, and the kids found it great! ».
I do not want to put so much pressure on it, but if you are not convinced that the scanner may be something useful in clinical terms (I’ll speak a lot of this future posts), at least think that it can be one of the most powerful inside marketing tool you will ever tried.
And it will allow you to answer to that worried mother « Yes, we scan! »*
* I would like, with this sentence, to honor the memory of Douglas Toll, american-german colleague, who co-invented the MARA appliance, and had a flamboyant personality being an adorable and genial man. I was mentoring me during my postgraduate research and he warmly opened his office and his home to me. I remember him wearing a t-shirt with this printed sentence back in 2009 at the AAO Boston meeting, freely inspired to the Obama’s first campaign =).
I hope he’ll smile among the stars, by looking at how is word pun is getting more and more actual.
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