Back to blog

"There is no stopping the digital evolution"

Interview with the Head of Dental Laboratory University Dental Clinic Vienna, MDT Tom Vaskovich MSc. He is also the owner of a dental laboratory in its third generation. He sees great opportunities and numerous benefits in the digitization of the industry, which he also believes to be inevitable - such as greater safety and simplification for users owing to a validated workflow.

Mon. 21 November 2022, 12:00 AM

Mr. Vaskovich, you have been a dental technician since 1984 and were born into a family of dental technicians. What inspires you about your work?
At the beginning of my professional career, I was particularly fascinated by the prospect of being able to manually create individual dentures myself using different materials and production processes. The topic of "materials and applications" has always been of special interest to me. And this fascination has remained to this day, which is why the profession is becoming even more exciting for me with all the new technologies and innovative materials.

You are in charge of the dental laboratory at the University Dental Clinic Vienna, which is the largest university dental clinic in the German-speaking world with some 40,000 patients and 160,000 cases per year. Which criteria are important when selecting and purchasing new equipment?
To meet our high demands and the large amount of work involved, reliable quality is the be-all and end-all for us. What is also becoming increasingly important for all users is having a complete validated workflow to achieve more security in terms of traceability and liability issues. In our university dental laboratory, we have been working with numerous Amann Girrbach machines and materials for more than ten years now - the reason being that for a long time it was virtually the only company that could offer us the complete package of a comprehensive portfolio combined with very good quality. And over the years, we have switched to more and more products because of their quality. For example, we are using full service units such as the Ceramill Matik or the Ceramill Motion, the Ceramill Therm DRS high-speed sintering furnace, materials such as Ceramill Sintron, Artex articulators or also the Zebris for Ceramill digital facebow.

In addition to your function at the university dental clinic, you also run a dental laboratory in Vienna. What processes are employed there and what has happened in the past few years?
In my private dental laboratory, efficient processes and the aforementioned validated workflow are equally important. What I consider to be the best investment I have made in years at both of my places of work is the Ceramill Matik Full Service Unit. It has increased productivity in my private laboratory by at least 30 percent in combination with the materials Zolid FX Multilayer as well as Zolid Gen-X - and that is really quite remarkable. It combines three machines in one: apart from the actual processing station, the system also performs the functions of a fully automated stock management system as well as a machine cleaning device. And the milling results are superb. The options for manufacturing overnight or at the weekend are convincing. In my laboratory, zirconia is fabricated during the day and splints are fabricated during the night. This change in work processes is a real gamechanger. And by the way, the processes in the university laboratory are similar: zirconia is fabricated during the day and splints - and lots of them - are fabricated during night. This usually happens over the entire weekend without any monitoring or control, and it works out perfectly.

How will ever-increasing digitization change the face of dentistry? And how will the industry develop in general?
Increasing digitization will bring us many benefits - such as digital data backup and the associated security. Digital data transfer and the fact that the machines can work 24/7 also rank among the great advantages of digitization - and, of course, the enormous increase in production and quality that comes with this, due to the use of standardized processes in conjunction with industrially prefabricated raw materials. This saves time and, above all, costs to a considerable extent. The switch to creating inlays and veneers from zirconia also increases efficiency. The level of repeat work has dropped dramatically, while the level of satisfaction among practitioners has risen sharply. More than 50 percent of my practitioners now send digital impressions, and with the exception of full and partial dentures as well as post abutments, all work is planned and fabricated digitally, as has already been the case with 100 percent of model casting work for years. I also expect a sharp increase in the use of intraoral scanners in dental practices over the next few years.

Keyword "digital interfaces dental laboratory and dentist". What is your assessment of developments here? Do improvements in laboratory-dentist collaboration or the increased competition prevail?
I view this very positively. This is one of the teaching topics I can share with students. If a dentist wants to fabricate straightforward pieces him/herself, then he/she should and can do so. The effort in the dental practice for this is not insignificant, and in Austria a crown or an inlay is not that expensive for the dentist. The order situation in the laboratories, which have advanced technically and digitally, is so good that these individual cases can be compensated easily. I myself have customers who work in this manner, but for the "good" or more challenging work, they then come to me. And the advantages of digital data transfer clearly outweigh the disadvantages, for example the fact that courier services are no longer required or that it is now possible to design immediately without the need for a model.

A concrete example of complex digitization is also given by Zebris for Ceramill, a digital facebow with numerous functions such as single restorations that are scanned with an intraoral scanner without a model. How does such an innovation impact your work?
In the case of the Zebris for Ceramill System, we benefit from a simplification of procedures, namely automatic data transfer to the Ceramill System and the direct transfer to the virtual articulator. We already have a very large number of intraoral impressions. As we usually work with an outer bow, we also need ways to get the upper jaw into the correct position in the virtual articulator. The simple, quick functional analysis is very helpful. We are currently exploring the indications for which we will use the Zebris for Ceramill System at the university in the Department for Clinical Research.

Will the training of dental technicians change fundamentally as a result of digitization?
As training in Austria already predominantly also teaches digital skills, both for apprentices as well as for the master craftsman's examination, the profession as a whole will also develop in this direction. Up until recently, the focus of training at our university has been on the application of conventional techniques. We are currently undergoing a truly rapid transformation towards digitization. Our departments are being equipped with intraoral scanners, while at the same time training is being provided on the correct use of the scanners and the necessary workflow that needs to be observed to be able to work smoothly with the dental laboratory. CAD/CAM is also taught extensively during training. The aim is to redefine restoration concepts during the course of this year - whereby fully anatomical dentures made of zirconia will be introduced on a large scale. Partial dentures are designed digitally and then laser sintered. And with the exception of the post indication and the area of full dentures, impressions will be taken completely digitally in future. This is a vision and can therefore not be realized in the "very near" future, but the direction is clear.

Insights into the dental technology laboratoy of the university clinic Insights into the dental technology laboratoy of the university clinic
The room with the CAD/CAM working stations The room with the CAD/CAM working stations

Follow us!