October 12, 2023 4 min read
There have been many changes in dental technology since Dr. Susan McMahon entered private practice 25 years ago.
“Pretty much everything I learned in dental school is now obsolete. These days patients are more aware and demanding for dental technology than ever,” said the cosmetic dentist from the United States. “They expect to have the most up to date options and will base their choice of treatment based on the availability of digital dentistry technology like dental 3D printing.”
While convenience is extremely important to patients, utilizing new dental technology allows clinicians to diagnose better, plan treatment more comprehensively, and deliver results faster.
Dr. McMahon’s journey with digital dentistry started with an upgrade from a traditional panorex machine to a CBCT machine, and then the addition of an intraoral scanner. Integrating data enabled the clinician to plan implants, diagnose endodontic lesions, and consult with other colleagues about cases.
CBCT three-dimensional data makes referrals to specialists for imaging redundant and allows the patient to get an almost immediate diagnosis without wait times while determining whether or not the tooth is restorable. Intraoral scanners enable increased treatment acceptance for patients who can see and understand their condition better and get an increased understanding of timeline, treatment, and finances.
Dr. McMahon also uses dental technology for smile enhancement and full mouth rehabilitation; prior to that her workflow was more traditional, based on intuition, experience, and hand waxing mockups. After incorporating digital dentistry, her workflow is now faster and simpler.
“It’s crucial to have key team members excited and interested about digital dentistry when adopting new processes. My team members have driven much of our workflow changes and demonstrated how digital dentistry creates less work for all of us in the office. Each time we invested in dental technology I have seen an uptick in production and team morale,” says Dr. McMahon. “We have added dental 3D printing of models, occlusal guards and surgical guides. Printing models allows us to fabricate retainers and provisional stents for smile design which gets our patients scheduled for implant surgery and for restorative prepping much faster.”
Dr. McMahon recently added a second dental 3D printer, the Ackuretta SOL.
“With SOL we are now 3D printing final crowns, provisional restorations, surgical guides, dentures, hard and soft occlusal guards and models. Ackuretta’s ALPHA AI software makes setting up the print on SOL very simple. My assistants appreciate how one or two clicks is all it takes to get the print ready to go,” said Dr. McMahon.
A recent case conducted at Dr. McMahon’s clinic demonstrates her team’s use of dental 3D printing. The patient was a 19 year old boy referred by his orthodontist for implant replacement and smile enhancement due to a missing left lateral incisor.
The patient was treated with an implant placed at the left lateral incisor position as well as veneers on his right lateral, right central and left central incisors. Intraoral scans and CBCT scan done during the consultation were used to generate data for planning and an stl file for a splint.
“My assistant received the stl file from the designer and uploaded it to ALPHA AI. The software positioned the guide, placed the supports, and was ready to print in a couple of clicks. The application was 3D printed with SOL, rinsed, and UV cured. Within three days after the consultation we had completed smile design, fabricated the splint, and done the implant surgery,” said Dr. McMahon about the treatment. “One of the great things about SOL is its small footprint that makes efficiency in a dental clinic environment possible.”
Dr. McMahon found that restoratively driven implant placements makes for the most ideal outcomes due to the confidence the clinician has in an esthetic result.
“The convenience to the patient to have work done so efficiently and with such great results is game changing. I strongly believe that in office dental 3D printing leads to better clinical outcomes and satisfaction for patients.”
While Dr. McMahon doesn’t consider herself a ‘techie’, she realized that in order to keep her practice thriving she needed to offer very convenient and very timely digital dentistry.
“I am now doing the best dentistry of my career with the most precision and best looking materials. Patients want to have their treatment done immediately and they do not want to go to different offices. Investing in dental technology and getting your team involved and excited is the best practice builder there is,” concluded Dr. McMahon.
“The single most important factor for most people when choosing care and accepting treatment is convenience. Time is the most valuable commodity we have.”
Susan McMahon DMD, AAACD, FAGD
A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine, Dr. McMahon owns the largest cosmetic dental practice in Western Pennsylvania. She is accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, an invited Fellow of the prestigious American Society for Dental Aesthetics and a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. A clinician, author and educator and internationally recognized KOL, Dr. McMahon has devoted her professional career to the pursuit of advanced technologies in cosmetic and minimally invasive dentistry. She frequently lectures across the United States and abroad on minimally invasive dentistry, technology and conservative, undetectable cosmetic dentistry. She has been honored as a Top US Dentist over 20 times. She has also been voted by her peers as a Top Pittsburgh Dentist every year for over two decades.