Digital planning and in-house printing – Sam Elassar for ADI

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  Posted by: Dental Design      6th September 2018








The key benefit of digital dentistry is that it helps us to improve consistency and predictability. Digital technology provides the tools that allow us to plan treatment more accurately than conventional methods, and it gives the clinician a lot more control over implant placement.

From a patient’s point of view, it doesn’t matter how the surgery is done as long as the job is done correctly and they are happy with the end result. However, from a clinician’s point of view, digital technology gives us an extra element of predictability and consistency. For example, I am now able to plan a case and gain an idea of the potential final result, before I go ahead with treating the patient.

In-house printing increases the control I have over what I am doing. I don’t have to wait for my work to come back from the dental laboratory because I can do it in-house, saving me a lot of time. This means that I can manage my workload more effectively, it is a lot more flexible and I have found it more cost-effective too. As a result, I can pass the cost savings on to my patients if I want to and it makes the whole process more expedient and controlled.

Yesterday I had a day off and today I am planning a case for tomorrow. If I was not able to print in-house, I would have had to start planning this case last week and wait for it to arrive from the lab. In-house printing allows me to plan cases at a time that suits me.

Like everything in life, with digital technology there can be problems. For example, in the past if the lab had a printing issue and I was unable to get a guide in time, it impacted on my patients and my work. Now, if there is a snag, I can just print another guide myself. It makes my life much easier.

There are a lot of manufacturers trying to sell digital technology and there are lots of courses and speakers also doing the same, but sometimes there can be a bias involved. Therefore, I would advise clinicians thinking of purchasing printing equipment to first do some research – shop around and see what is going to be the most suitable for your particular requirements. Then I would say go and speak to someone who is already using that equipment, maybe spend the day with them to see how it works and if it is appropriate for you. Similarly, I would advise other professionals to take the ‘try before you buy’ approach. Try out the equipment in your own environment and plan a couple of cases before you commit any money. Otherwise it could turn out to be a costly mistake.

Before I purchased my 3D printer I used the same model of printer at my dental laboratory. This enabled me to see how it worked, how easy it was to use and to ensure that it could achieve everything I wanted from in-house printing technology. I tried it for a few months before I actually made my purchase.

The other issue that always seems to arise with digital technology is that all your equipment must be able to speak to one another; the intraoral scanner, 3D printer and planning software must all be compatible. Therefore, if you already have an intraoral scanner, I would advise you to trial the software and use a lab that has got a similar printer to the one that you are planning to purchase, to see if it all works properly.

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within the ADI and I would encourage dental professionals to join and visit the Members’ Only Facebook Group. Here, they can access a lot of information, ask questions and receive sound advice before they commit or spend any money.



For more information about the ADI, or to join, please visit

The opinions in this article are that of the author and not the official opinion of the ADI


Author bio: Sam Elassar runs his own implant referral practice in Dundee. He qualified from Dundee University in 1997 and has worked in general practice ever since. He gained his implant diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons in London in 2012. Sam is very passionate about digital dentistry and the use of digital work low in implant dentistry, he plans and restores all his cases digitally and prints his guides in-house. He uses intra-oral scanning for both the planning and restoring of his cases which include both partial and full arch cases. Over the last 2 years he has gained extensive experience using coDiagnostiX and Implant Studio and in-house printing. He has placed over 500 implants using digitally designed 3D printed guides. He also places and restores multiple implant systems. 

Qualifications: BDS (Dundee) MFDS RCPS(Glas) MJDF RCS (London) DipImpDent RCS (London) PG Cert Sedation (UCL)

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