Dental Tribune International

UK dentists lack money and training to use CAD/CAM technology

LONDON, UK: Computer-aided technology is evolving rapidly to meet the demands of patients and dentists. However, thus far, no published information existed on dentists’ use of and reporting on CAD/CAM technology in the UK. Therefore, a recent open market research survey was conducted to determine the infiltration of CAD/CAM in UK dental practices and to investigate the relationship between various demographic factors and use or non-use of this technology.

The survey was distributed online to 1,031 UK dentists. The questionnaire sought to obtain information regarding type of usage, materials, perceived benefits, barriers to access and disadvantages of CAD/CAM dentistry. In analysing the responses, the influence of demographic variables such as country of work, experience, level of training and type of work (NHS or private) was considered.

Of the 385 dentists who responded, most did not use any CAD/CAM technology. The main barriers were initial costs (especially for NHS dentistry) and a lack of perceived advantage over the conventional methods. Dentists performing mostly private work and those with further training, however, were most likely to have adopted a digital workflow.

However, 52 per cent of dentists surveyed reported being interested in incorporating this technology as part of their workflow, particularly in light of the cost reduction for patients (34 per cent) and improvement of the quality (69 per cent). Thirty-nine per cent of the respondents felt that CAD/CAM technology had led to a change in the use of dental materials, with increased use of zirconia and lithium.

“The demand for aesthetic and metal-free restorations has led to the development of high-strength ceramics in dentistry, which may only be used in conjunction with CAD/CAM technology,” the researchers explained.

A number of respondents (30 per cent) reported being concerned about the quality of the chairside CAD/CAM restorations. Furthermore, 27 per cent did not perceive any advantages over conventional production methods and this was particularly the case for dentists with further postgraduate training in restorative dentistry and specialist prosthodontics.

Most respondents were either self-trained or trained by companies to use CAD/CAM, and a third felt that their training was insufficient. This finding highlights a gap in dental education and the need for continuing professional development. Nevertheless, the majority of those surveyed (89 per cent) believed that CAD/CAM technology had a major role to play in the future of dentistry.

The survey results, titled “Survey of UK dentists regarding the use of CAD/CAM technology”, were published online on 18 November 2016 in the British Dental Journal. The study was conducted by researchers at UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London.

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