While 15 percent of dentists today use computer-aided design, less than 1 percent have an in-house lab, estimates Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg.
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NEW YORK—After quivering in his dentist’s office as a child, it’s a wonder that Lee Wexler would become a dentist himself.
“There was no novocaine,” Wexler recalls. “I remember this dark, long staircase, and as I got closer and closer to the top, the drilling got louder and louder.”
It seems an unavoidable fact of modern life that we all suffer some degree of dentistry-related trauma. To change this, Dr. Wexler and Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg (who loved and admired his childhood dentist) partnered in 2006 to create modern and friendly dentist’s office in New York City.
The concept is two-fold: get patients in and out as quickly as possible, and make their stay as comfortable and informative as possible. Now, seven years later, their practice has become a client favorite—their reviews online are consistently rated five out of five.
In and Out
The key is same-day procedures—patients are able to come in, get a diagnosis, and walk out with the same day with whatever prosthesis he or she may need. This is made possible by digital imaging and CAD/CAM technology. Standing for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, CAD/CAM was first used in dentistry in the 1980s, and is only now beginning to be adopted more commonly in mainstream dental practices. Gallery 57 is one of the few offices in Manhattan to take full advantage of the technology.
Conventionally, crowns would require the patient to sit with plaster in his or her mouth for an impression. Then, temporaries are bonded to the tooth for several weeks while the permanent ones are produced at an offsite lab. From start to finish, it usually takes three visits. Gallery 57′s lab is in-house, right at the end of the hallway. While 15 percent of dentists today use CAD, less than 1 percent have an in-house lab, estimates Koenigsberg.
By bypassing temporaries, the patient avoids the problems associated with them, such as pain, sensitivity to temperature, and the crown falling off. Two-thirds of patients who receive the conventional procedure experience complications with their temporaries, according to Koenigsberg.
Using bonded ceramic allows the patient to retain more of his or her original tooth because less of the enamel needs to be removed. Additionally, because the patient and lab technician are in close communication, they can work together to determine the best fit and color right when the crown or veneer is made.
In the Lab
Three technicians work in Gallery 57′s lab. The well-lit room is stocked full of little ceramic blocks of varying hues—including natural gradients—to match any tooth. The patient’s teeth are scanned using a small hand-held device. Scanning a single tooth typically takes only 20 seconds. Then, the data is transmitted directly to a computer.
A simulation allows the technicians to view each tooth’s grooves and contours. The image can be spun around to view it from all angles. The comprehensiveness of this scan is especially useful for full rows of teeth, so the dentists can design individual teeth keeping in mind the mouth as a whole.
Using this visual data, the technician designs a crown with input from the patient. Then, they choose the material, and the porcelain block is placed into a machine that mills it into the specified shape. In a matter of hours, the crown can be fitted.
To patients who get into scrapes, the quick turnaround time is a huge relief.
“Anyone who knows me knows I love to smile,” wrote patient Debra P. in a testimonial on Gallery 57′s website. “So when I chipped my front tooth I researched and found Gallery 57 Dental. So happy they were able to repair it in the first visit so I can continue smiling.”
Gallery 57 Dental
24 W. 57th St., Suite 701
(Between 6th & 5th Avenues)