Content Dam Diq En Articles 2015 01 Message In A Bottle Mailbag January 2015 Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Message in a Bottle Mailbag: The Navigator name, 3M ESPE's True Def, and college football playoffs

Jan. 12, 2015
In this column, Dr. Joshua Austin, Editorial Director of The Product Navigator, responds to product questions submitted by readers.

The editors of and Dental Economics are proud to introduce "Message in a Bottle Mailbag" from the new e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. In this monthly feature, Editorial Director Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD, answers reader-submitted questions to help you navigate your dental and hygiene product decisions (and more!). This month, he explains how the Navigator got its name, shares his opinion on 3M ESPE's True Definition Scanner, and gives his take on college football playoffs.


Looking forward to the “Pearls” newsletter in January! Quick question for you: what’s with the newsletter name, The Product Navigator? Are you on a cruise ship or something? P.S. – Ever read Moby Dick? I got two chapters in and decided to watch the movie.

– Dr. Curious

Unfortunately, I’m not on a cruise ship (or a sailing vessel of any kind), but the “Navigator” part of the name is significant. Here’s the 411 on how we came up with it:

In this newsletter, I want to help people “navigate” the stormy seas of dental products. It’s that simple. There are so many choices out there – from equipment to bonding materials, from hygiene products to ergonomic devices ... I could go on, but if you’ve been practicing for any time, you know what I mean.

I’m no dental products genius. On the contrary, I’m your average GP who owns his own practice and sees patients five days a week. I don’t have a lot of extra time, and I certainly can’t use it to test every dental product out there. But when I find something good, I want to share it. The same goes for you. When you find something you like, I want to know. Chances are, I’ll try it out myself! So don’t be afraid to tell me what’s working and what’s not in your practice. That’s what this mailbag is for. (That, and various sports and pop culture hot takes that I might have.) You can let me know about a new product ... or ask me what product I’m using that I like. Together, we’ll bring this pirate ship safely into port.

Thanks for your question, and let me know what’s working for your practice!

– Captain Austin

P.S. – I don’t know who Cliff was, but I enjoy his "Notes," and without them, I never would have survived that Moby Dick lit exam.


Nice article in DE. Are you using your 3M ESPE True Definition Scanner for crowns and bridges, as well? Do you mill?

– @askmydentist

Thanks! Yes, my True Def is primarily used for fixed prosthodontics. I know that I have written about it for Invisalign cases, but on a day-to-day basis, I use it for crowns and bridges. I probably scan about 85% of the fixed pros in my practice. I still haven’t scanned for veneers, but I am sure I probably could.

With the new wand that 3M released in October, I am having an easier time scanning difficult cases, and I am faster at scanning routine cases. For a single-unit crown, my average scan time for the operative quadrant, opposing quadrant, and a bite registration is probably about five minutes total. If I am scanning full arches, my average scan time is probably around 10-12 minutes.

I’ve been scanning with this machine for a couple of years, and I certainly didn’t start out scanning so quickly. It’s taken some time to make it routine. There is definitely a learning curve, but I found that using it was much easier after about 10 scans. In my opinion, we are all just a few years away from saying “goodbye” to impression material for most cases. Digital impressions have so many advantages that I can’t imagine this technology not following the same trajectory as digital radiography. If you don’t have a digital impression scanner yet, you will within the next few years. Get ready for it.

As for milling, it’s not something I currently do. In my mind, I’m a dentist — not a lab tech. I don’t have a lot of interest in milling restorations in my office. I don’t think dentists who do mill are wrong or bad. Not at all. I’m just saying that, as of right now, it’s not for me.

If you want to start milling in your office, CEREC and E4D aren’t your only options. Planmeca and IOS both make mills that are directly compatible with the True Def, and you can even add a mill onto the True Def.


Thoughts on college football playoffs? O-H-I-O!

– Bucknut from Ohio

Answer: Love it. 100% love it. As an Ohio State fan, you are obviously loving it too. Last year, you would have been playing in a non-title Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, placing salve on J.T. Barrett’s leg, and hoping next year would be better. This year, you are the story — along with Marcus Mariota.

I am writing this on January 8, a few days before the title game in Dallas. I think the four-team system will ultimately give way to an eight-team playoff. Back in September, we were seeing commentators putting together four-team lists on a weekly basis. There’s been drama all the way through the season. Three of the four teams proved that an early-season loss isn’t a death sentence. It’s been great, and my guess is that it will only continue to get better.

The entire state of Texas was complaining about the selection committee a few weeks ago, but it’s pretty obvious that they got the Ohio State part right. If they missed anything, it was Florida State. I think I speak for everyone when I say good riddance to them. I understand that you can’t keep an undefeated reigning national champion out of the playoffs, but we all know they were a fraud. I would have enjoyed seeing Texas Christian University in that spot, taking on Oregon in the Rose Bowl. That would have been fun.

As far as the national title game goes, I am excited to see it. Every time they show Braxton Miller on the sidelines, my heart pines for him to transfer to Texas next year since he’s obviously lost his job. Come to Austin, Braxton! It’s warm. The food is good. The music is great. You’ll be the big man on campus from day one. Matthew McConaughey will take you out for barbecue. Just pick up the phone and call me, Braxton Miller. I will make it happen!

Editor's Note: Do you have a question for Dr. Austin? Is there a product you'd like to see him review? Or would you like to submit your own "Pearl"? Tweet to @pearlmail or send an email to [email protected]. You might just see it in the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator!

Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD, is the editorial director for Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator, a new e-newsletter from and Dental Economics. He also writes the "Pearls for Your Practice" column in Dental Economics. After graduating from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School, Dr. Austin associated for several years. During October of 2009, he opened a solo general practice in a suburban area of San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Austin is involved in all levels of organized dentistry and can be reached at [email protected].