Why a High-Temperature Sintering Furnace Could Work for You By: Dr. Steve Ozer
For most of our decisions as clinicians and business owners, the motivation is “how will this impact those I treat?” Whether it’s investing in updated technology or implementing new procedure methods, the decision must prove mutually beneficial for the practice and patient. That’s what got me into chairside dentistry 14 years ago. Keeping the restorations in-house was attractive to me from a cost standpoint, but more importantly, it enhanced the patient experience by eliminating the second appointment to remove temporaries and fit the lab restoration. It was nice to be completed faster, for both parties.
More than a decade later, I’m still experiencing the benefits of the chairside investment and that is what pushes me to continue to expand to innovations like high-temperature sintering furnaces. I’ve found that this new device complements my existing chairside workflow, while increasing efficiencies overall.
Know how you want to use it
Two years ago, I introduced a high-temperature sintering furnace into our process because of its capacity to sinter zirconia. My practice uses an oven for staining and glazing, and a four-motor milling unit to perform the dry mill of the zirconia. High temperature furnaces certainly have universal capabilities and can serve a dental office in many ways, but for our needs, specifically, we were excited by the sole purpose of firing zirconia for small three-unit bridges and single unit crowns.
The furnace I use is the CEREC® SpeedFire by Dentsply Sirona because it is extremely quick as indicated by the name. It has the capability to dually sinter and glaze, and it reaches high temperatures fast to reduce downtime waiting for the outputs. This furnace is also the smallest of its kind available on the market. I appreciate this smaller footprint given that I have other ovens and chairside equipment I use in combination with the SpeedFire, but I don’t have to devote scarce space to house it.
Find the right materials
The choice of material used in the furnace has the power to drastically affect the final outcome. There are many factors that all contribute to the material selection and that may require a trial to know what works best. Some factors I examine are the prep design, the esthetic requirements, and strength.
For second molars, I lean toward using the strongest material available. Ideally, you find a material that is well-balanced in terms of strength and esthetics.
As more new materials are developed and introduced, the efficiency of high-temperature sintering furnaces will be invaluable. Using a new material in an old furnace could take up to 90 minutes to heat and completely cool. With a furnace like the SpeedFire, it would be closer to 20 minutes for the same material.
Despite where our comfort levels may lie, the industry is changing and will continue to push forward. The best reaction we can muster, even though it may be hard at first, is to get involved. Learn the new technology and jump in head-first because it’s not going backward. If we continue to invest in modernized materials and machinery, we’ll look back and appreciate the value and reap the rewards.