Thorn Ford Dental Laboratory started in 1977 as a specialized denture laboratory with three technicians.
Today we are a mid-size, complete service operation, manufacturing all types of dental prosthetics, including crowns and bridges, provisionals and veneers. implant abutments and bars, full and partial dentures, attachments, night guards and sleep apnea appliances.
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Tech Update Summer 2014
Going very well. We are excited about the future and our part in helping you deliver prosthetics profitably. There are two new developments I want you to know about.
The first is pretty simple, we are now Cadent ready. If you use an iTero scanner already, you may now send us files, both for crowns and for any tooth borne appliances, such as RPD's and night guards. All you need to do is enter our Aligntech ID# into your system; ( 12456 ) and consider selecting TFDL when you complete a scan. Also, with digital design tools we now offer single crowns, Zirconia or E-Max in just over one week. You also have the additional option of going model-less for $99!
The second is new and radical. We are now an AvaDent partner lab, which allows us the capability to create complete dentures using digital design tools and a precision milling to process. The advantage to you is consistency and repeatability. (Lost denture? Re-open the file and order a new one!) This option will only represent a small fraction of our production, but I believe it is an important capability to develop, as CAD/CAM production for dentures will eventually become mainstream as it is with crowns. With Avadentures you still have the ability to try in the set-up, either with the teeth set into the milled base with wax, or my favorite, a solid denture milled out of A-2 resin that the patient can take home.
There are three methods to utilize AvaDent. First is immediates, which may be done with no change to your current submission of models, bites and patient photos. We need a full 7 days to process the case this way, but you will see a $50 savings over our manual processes and gain the ability to order future duplicates or guides without involving the patient. The second is a method I already recommend for any edentulous patient, which is to make a clear duplicate of the existing denture and use that as an impression tray. This gives us all the information we need to replicate and improve the existing prostheses. We then scan it along with a bite registration, opposing model. Tooth brand, mold and shade are selected as usual but initially only exist as a 3D design file. We can easily take screen shots of the proposed denture that can be sent to you for comment. Once we have built confidence you may elect to skip the try-in for a significant saving of fees and chair-time.
To take advantage of all that Avadent offers we have starter kits at a discounted rate that include a denture duplicating kit that you may use chairside and reduce time and lab fees further. It also contains impression materials, checklists and all the components needed to utilize one of the greatest tools in the system, the AMD. This is a device that allows you to align two border-molded impressions in well fitting trays, set the desired vertical opening, find CR with a gothic arch tracing, set ideal lip support, indicate ideal midline and incisal edge position. All with screw adjustments, no wax carving, in one appointment.
If you wish to try the AMD, I will come to the first appointment and help you get familiar with these nifty new tools. If you have any questions I would love to hear from you. Our goal is to help you provide a great experience and great prosthetics to your patients. These new tools are just one more way to get there.
Thanks for reading! Loren Ford CDT
I will be out of town for two weeks, the last week of February and the first week of March. Production will continue as normal, but I will not be available for consulting or complex case plans for much of that time, and bar designs will need a little more time. For technical help you may speak with Mary or Patty for removables, Faith for ceramics, and Eric for abutments and diagnostics. Margarete and I are going on a cruise with extended family, we will come back rested and ready to kick the lab into high gear!
In June Mary Alvin will be retiring from management after 48 years in the business. She started at Harrison Dental Lab in 1966, and worked her way to assistant manager of the denture department with 20 technicians. In 1977 my father, Thorn Ford, left the Harrison organization to start his own lab and Mary followed him in 1978 to be employee #1. Her high standards have been key to our success, and allowed us to easily make the transition through Thorn's retirement 10 years ago. Mary is looking forward to spending more time with friends, volunteering, and enjoying her and Jerry's home on Whidbey Island.
Patty Tompkins has been Mary's left arm for more than 25 years. She is capable and committed to continuing the same level of quality , response and good communication that you have come to expect from us. So let's celebrate with Mary this wonderful milestone in her life. We plan to send her off in style so watch for more information as Summer gets closer.
Loren M Ford CDT
I am often asked of questions about our experience with oral scanners or digital impression systems, but they do not seem to have widespread use yet outside of units that are part of a clinical milling system like CEREC. I believe this is about to change, so here is my opinion about the best choices from our perspective.
We have been looking at oral scanners as a tool to get a more predictable fit for treatment appliances as well as splints and RPD's. One of the tools we are excited about is the ability to select a global blockout parameter so a splint can be produced with precisely determined fit. For us the top three choices are iTero, 3 Shape Trios and 3M's True Definition.
iTero was the first to market and is a well accepted system with a great accuracy track record for crown and bridge. We have done some removable work from those scans with good results, but the workflow imposed by Cadent can be more complex since they retain initial control of the scans.
We have a 3 Shape D800 scanning system so the Trios is very attractive since it is truly open source, allowing us to immediately make use of the initial scans with any milling machine or printer on the market. This system is does not require extensive powder. 3 Shape laboratory software also has appliance and restorative design modules that can design anything including complete dentures. However, the cost for us to license additional modules is high, requiring a very robust volume of work to justify. For you, the Trios is also an expensive option, in the neighborhood of 40k.
This makes the True Definition the likely best choice. It retails for less than 12k, and has a very compact and easy to use wand. But it does require extensive powdering of the scan surfaces 3M offers two levels of service, one being more economical and relying on the company's own printing system to produce models. For a higher monthly subscription you can output an STL file and send to your manufacturer of choice with no middleman.
All of these systems can reliably capture crown preps, and if in your arsenal will surely be used for that purpose. Our goal is to be ready to apply the same technology to every aspect of production as it becomes mainstream. Right now there is no savings of time or cost over traditional impressions, but that will come. I think the improved accuracy alone is enough of a selling point to get us started.
Thanks for reading, tomorrow I will wrap this series up.
We have renewed our FDA registration this year to continue to provide oral devices for sleep apnea therapy. This is another generally underserved population and I expect to have a new opportunity for you to integrate treatment into your practice with better support and an improved appliance by summer. For now our appliances of choice are the TAP 3TL or the TAP Elite and the Herbst. In 2013 we delivered 233 cases, most of the patients we have served are very attached to their appliances and passionately value the improvement it brings to their quality of life.
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Thank you for your time today, more to come tomorrow.
I had planned to send out a technology update but I waited too long. There is so much to share that I'm going to break this up into 4 separate messages. I hope you will bear with me, and please write back if I hit on something that can help you. The new year is well under way now, but there's still 6 more weeks of Winter! It's not too late to strategize for a rewarding 2014.
At TFDL the fastest growing arena is the All-On-4 concept for immediate loaded prosthetics following the ClearChoice model. While we have been manufacturing bars and hybrid dentures since the 80's, assisting in same day surgery and restoration is new for us. For 2013 we facilitated the conversion of 30 cases, and I believe we can do 60 this year as acceptance increases. It will be driven by a greater understanding of the efficiencies and vastly improved final results that come from the planning and collaboration that occurs between the surgeon, dentist, implant manufacturer and laboratory. I would love to share more with you, particularly if you have a patient in mind that has failing dentition or is unsatisfied with traditional dentures and a desire not to be "toothless".
In the North end Dr. Bob Gottlieb (IPANW) in Kenmore has the most experience and dedicated facilities. In the South we have been working with Dr. Allen Chen (VIP) in Renton who is also fully committed to furthering this process to serve your patients to improve their well being and quality of life.
Until tomorrow, Loren.
Thorn Ford Dental Laboratory LLC
P.O. Box 1265 Bothell, WA 98041-1265