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Digital gives me the confidence to push the boundaries


  Posted by: The Probe      25th October 2019

Implant dentist, Eimear O’Connell, explains how adding a 3D imaging unit to her CEREC® workflow enabled her to push the boundaries of implant-borne restorations, and boosted the revenue and profile of her practice, Bite Dentistry based in Edinburgh.

I have used CEREC®, Dentsply Sirona’s chairside solution for single-visit restorations, for over ten years and am a committed advocate of digital dentistry. I have always been interested in technology and was one of the early adopters of digital techniques in the field of implant dentistry. I recognised the benefits and was keen to take advantage of its accuracy and ability to streamline workflows.

When I moved to my practice, Bite Dentistry in Edinburgh, I assigned a room specifically for a 3D digital X-ray machine, as I had already decided that this would be one of my first investments. At the time, we were referring CBCT scans to a third party, but this was unsatisfactory and meant that I was unable to produce a surgical guide in-house, which was a significant drawback for me.

What lies beneath

In 2016, we purchased Dentsply Sirona’s Orthophos® SL 3D imaging system and began the process of integrating it with our existing CEREC technology, to create a full in-house implant-borne restorative workflow. The difference it made was extraordinary.

I routinely take a 3D X-ray for every implant case so I can identify any pathology or more complex problems that lie beneath the gingiva. A key benefit of 3D imaging is the amount of detail I can gather about the bone and root structure. An area of concern that might look small on a 2D X-ray can, in reality, be much larger in its true three dimensions. Not only does this often change my approach to a case, but it also means I’m not confronted by something unexpected during surgery.

Adding a 3D X-ray to the workflow has made diagnosis and treatment planning significantly easier. I now extract more wisdom or complex teeth than I did before, as I have a clearer indication of their proximity to a nerve. When planning the extraction of a tooth with multiple roots, the image allows me to make a judgement as to whether it would be better to cut the tooth first and then extract it in separate pieces to preserve the bone.

More than a thousand words

One of the greatest benefits of digital imaging is the improvement in patient communication. I find that a picture speaks more than a thousand words and giving patients a 3D visualisation of their oral anatomy gives them a much better understanding of the situation. I can then fully explain the problem and give my treatment recommendation.

The Orthophos SL 3D integrates seamlessly with CEREC, enabling me to demonstrate, on the merged surface scan and X-ray, exactly where the implant will be placed in relation to all the anatomical structures. Patient reaction is incredibly positive, and it seems to give them confidence in me as a practitioner, and in the practice, as they can see that we have invested in some outstanding technology.

The perfect partner

That smooth integration with CEREC was one of my main reasons for choosing the Orthophos SL. I am confident in the knowledge that all the components in both systems have been designed and calibrated specifically to work together. The integration between the two has made my practice more efficient and I can truthfully say that in the three years since installing the Orthophos SL and starting to print surgical guides in-house, there has never been a single one that has not fitted. I have printed hundreds and in each case the implants have been placed exactly where I planned.

The range of fields of view and low dose radiation options that are incorporated in the Orthophos SL are excellent service additions for my implant practice. I am able to capture the anatomy I need, with the accuracy and sharpness required, whilst remaining very conservative in terms of the radiation dose delivered.

My final requirement before purchasing my new equipment was that it should be straightforward to use. It was important to me that we would be able to start using it immediately and that my team wouldn’t require too much training; neither on operating the equipment nor on how to report on the images. Post-installation, Dentsply Sirona provided training on both these elements as part of their service. This is a vital step – knowing how the machine works, how to position the patient and how to get the maximum diagnostic capability whilst staying within safe radiation limitations, are all crucial to getting the best out of the equipment.

Pushing the boundaries

My investment in the Orthophos SL has more than lived up to my expectations, from both a clinical and a business point of view.

Implant treatment uptake has increased thanks to the improvement in patient understanding of my diagnoses and treatment recommendations. We can offer our patients a more streamlined experience by keeping all elements in-house and we can often carry out the initial consultation, scan, diagnosis, and discuss treatment options all in one visit.

As well as the increased revenue from treatments, we are also accepting CBCT referrals from local dentists. These two things combined have increased both turnover and our practice’s profile.

Knowing that I can trust my equipment and software 100% gives me amazing confidence in my clinical work. With CEREC and the Orthophos SL, I can deliver a streamlined workflow that I know is fully integrated and will work perfectly together. This is allowing me to push the boundaries of implant dentistry further than I have ever done before.

To book an appointment with our Imaging Specialist and learn more about Dentsply Sirona’s extensive range of imaging solutions please visit or call 01932 838 355.

You can visit the online Dentsply Sirona Academy for a wide range of education resources, video tutorials, courses and CPD webinars at

About the author

Dr Eimear O’Connell

Principal Dentist at Bite Dentistry, Edinburgh

BDS (Edin 1992), MFGDP, Dip Imp Dent RCSEd, FFGDP

Eimear received her dental degree from the University of Edinburgh and she has run her own private dental practice in Edinburgh since 1996. She received her MFGDP and FFGDP from the Royal College of Surgeons London and her Diploma of Implant Dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. She is currently the committee member for Scotland.

In 2014 Eimear won a UK business award from Software of Excellence as well as winning Best Overall Practice in Scotland. In 2015 her practice won a Best Patient Care award. Eimear is an international speaker and she is especially interested in digital dentistry. She has been using CEREC technology since 2008 and believes the increased success of her practice has much to do with the implementation of digital dentistry.

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