Digital denture – the next big thing?

An insight into his everyday practice, Michael Wiernek, CEO and founder of Tandprotetikeren Aarhus Laboratory, shares his personal yet holistic view of digital dentures.

There is hardly an area of life that has not yet been affected by the far-reaching technical change in recent years: Digitalisation is on everybody’s mind and, of course, dentists and dental technicians and their day-to-day practice have not been left untouched.

This also holds for digital dentures, according to Michael Wiernek, CEO and founder of Tandprotetikeren Aarhus Laboratory. From his base in Denmark, Wiernek has over 22 years of work experience and is also a denturist himself. Here, he elaborates on the opportunities and challenges in the area of digital dentures.

Do you only work digitally or do you also manufacture conventional dentures?
Michael Wiernek:
We work only digitally; never with conventional dentures. I consider us to be an almost completely digital laboratory. My colleagues and I were one of the first dental technician teams in Scandinavia to use digital dentures. As a result, we have created a laboratory that almost eliminates the need for gypsum for producing dentures. With the digital denture method, we have reduced 10 hours of lab work to approximately 1.5 hours. In the beginning, we couldn’t believe it ourselves, but it is true.

Did you go through a big learning process for digital manufacturing or was it easy and intuitive for you?
For me, going digital has been a unique yet tough journey, which I started in March 2018. The following six months involved truly hard work because no one in Denmark knew how to do it. After the summer of 2018, I acquired a lot of know-how, but still, I could not do everything I wanted to. So, I went outside Denmark to the US, Holland and Germany to network and exchange knowledge with experts in the field. It took me many evenings and nights trying to figure things out at home, but after a year I fully committed to it and it paid off. I know almost everything about digital dentures now and even when I do not, I always find a way to make it work.

What convinced you to manufacture your dentures with Ivotion, and what difference do you see compared with how conventional dentures are fabricated?
For me, the most convincing argument was the fact that with Ivotion, you have a full denture plate in one, which no one else can provide. In addition, speed is an enormous advantage, since you do not have to glue the denture base and teeth together.

The biggest difference between a conventional denture and a digital denture is that I can significantly reduce patient visits by working with the Ivotion Denture System. We can cut them down from five to six visits to two to three visits per denture, and we are fully done with satisfied and smiling patients.

What was the feedback you have received from your patients?
The feedback is great because patients only have to come for one or two appointments before the denture fits. The patients are much more satisfied than in the past. They have also become much more relaxed since I can assure them that the result will fit them perfectly.

With Ivotion, they no longer have the same pain level as with the conventional method, since it is not only much better and faster but also fits them perfectly. In addition, the reproducibility of the created prosthesis is simple. Digital dentures are an absolute win from the patient’s point of view.

Did you invest directly in the entire system or did you do it in stages? You also purchased a PrograMill PM7. How did you feel when you made the decision to purchase it and how would you evaluate the situation today?
In the beginning, I started by using the scanner and the 3Shape dental system. At a very early stage, I also decided to only implement and follow the respective Ivoclar Digital Denture workflow and take it step by step. Seven months later I made the next move and got the lab scanner and then the 3D printer.

About the PrograMill PM7, I thought about it for two years, because of the high investment amount. However, I knew I could not resist because the PM7 is a very capacious mill for high productivity. If I am investing in something new, I am going to go with the best. I knew that in the long run, I would invest in the PM7 anyway, knowing that if I wanted to hire more denturists or increase my production, the PM7 would be the right one. I have never regretted it, as for me it is the best available machine. And it has paid off.

Published in Dental Asia July/August 2022 issue.