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8 Ways to reduce your overhead with CAD/CAM

Prior to COVID-19 the first quarter of 2020 was phenomenal for most of the dental industry. The economy was strong and had no signs of slowing down. However, the pandemic shutdown dental completely for two months. This has left all dental professionals reorganizing their businesses in an attempt to reduce overhead and be profitable as revenue will undoubtedly be down for 2020.

There are several ways to reduce overhead, such as reduce payroll or use more cost-effective products. Reducing payroll is hard to do because as a business owner you naturally and rightfully feel obligated to the financially well being of your staff.  If you use cost-effective products you may have to compromise quality, which you may not want to do. 

The most predictable and effective way to reduce your overhead is to limit the outsourcing of your restorations, surgical guides, ortho appliances and more. The monthly payment and material cost is a fraction of what a lab pays a milling center or a dentist pays a laboratory.  

Plus the technology is so advanced that it can virtually “do the work” for you after you learn the software and implement a workflow. Dental CAD softwares such as 3Shape, Exocad and Ceramill Mind allow you to do standard crown & bridge design with the ability to select the modules you use as an Add-on. You can now fabricate everything from a simple crown to a full denture in-house without outsourcing for the fraction of the cost. 

Amann Girrbach, Roland, VHF and Ivoclar all manufacture proven high-quality milling machines that have differing levels of capabilities.  These are proven manufactures with a track record of success that can fabricate restorations beyond 3 unit bridge “Same-Day” dentistry. Furthermore, they all are open platform systems and have a sizable customer and distribution base in the United States which ensures they are futureproof.  

If you purchase from an experienced and knowledgeable distributor your business will be able to produce some amazing work. Your monthly payment  on a five year term will be $1,100 to $2,300 depending on the equipment and capabilities you choose. Capabilities to choose from are Crowns, Bridges, “All on X”, Hybrid Zirconia/Titanium Implant Abutments, Titanium Implant Abutments, Long Span Relignable Temporaries, Bite Splints, Dentures, Partial Dentures, Smile Design, Surgical Guides and more. 

In addition to milling you can add a printer to your CAD/CAM system. There are affordable printers that range from $2,500 to $25,000 that can be added to your system for a slightly higher monthly payment. Depending on how much you would like to budget, you can get a printer to complement your milling machine to product Models, Surgical Guides, Bite Splints, Temporaries, Ortho Models for Appliances, Dentures and more.

The advantage of printed versus milled is that the material costs less to print. However, the technology has yet to produce a final restoration so printed items are for temporary use. It is best to have both a milling machine and printer if you would want to get the maximum ROI when producing models and surgical guides. After you select your CAD/CAM options, here is the list of 8 ways to reduce your overhead:    

  1. Zirconia Restorations- If you use the manufactures mentioned earlier you can reduce your cost of zirconia restorations to $10 per unit including bur usage. When you compare your material cost versus outsourcing cost you will save a lot of money. 
  2. Block Material- E.max, Empress, Nice, Celtra Duo and more come in Block form on universal holders to be milled in milling machines. The cost of these blocks will range from $15 to $40 a unit depending on the material. (Purchasing a system that is open to different materials will dramatically decrease the amount you pay per block. (7 Things to Look For When Purchasing a CAD CAM System)  
  3. Implants- To mill implant abutments in-house your average cost will be $60 per unit with screw and bur usage. This is a huge savings over the average cost of an abutment. 
  4. Dentures- To mill a denture your average cost is around $200 per arch, to print the denture it will be around $100 an arch. These prices include your average denture teeth cost. The difference between the two options is printed dentures will not last as long as milled.
  5. Surgical Guides- Milled guides cost $40-$70 depending on span, printed cost $3 per arch. There is no advantage to having a milled guide instead of printed. 
  6. Less Appointments- With “Same-Day” milling capabilities your patients or customers  will only need to come into the practice for one appointment instead of two. This will save you money on chairtime and can be used as a selling point. 
  7. More Control- You will have more control over the finished product than if you sent somewhere else to have fabricated. This will reduce your redo’s and adjustments, thus giving you more time. As we all know, time is the most expensive thing we can waste. If the “Learning Curve” is a concern please don’t worry because repetition will help you get better. 
  8. Additional Services- With CAD/CAM you will be able to offer in-house services that you previously could not offer. This is another selling opportunity for you to take advantage of.

CAD/CAM technology allows your business to offer many services in-house that you previously could not. Time saved, reduced material cost and a predictable equipment payment will reduce your overhead and allow you to plan your finances more accurately for years to come. When you add your monthly payment with your material cost you will see your overhead drop significantly. Plus, this does not include the time that you saved by less redos and quicker turnaround times. 

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any questions feel free to email me at    

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