Every student has heard the story of George Washington and his wooden teeth. And while his set of dentures were actually made from a combination of lead, ivory, gold and even human teeth, the mythology around the Founding Father’s dental work highlights how far technology and innovation have advanced dentistry and led to the growth of an entire industry devoted to dental health.
One such company leading the way is TECHFIT Digital Surgery, and the technology is a game changer according to founder Mauricio Toro.
Focusing on musculoskeletal issues, the Colombia-based company offers custom orthopedic 3D medical devices, along with a product line of 3D custom cranial and maxillofacial reconstructive device options.
Expanding to the United States through the University of Central Florida/Volusia County Business Incubator in Daytona Beach via the Soft Landing program, TECHFIT’s manufacturing operation found their own perfect fit at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s MicaPlex. With great success over the past several years, TECHFIT is now in the latest stages of obtaining ISO 13485 certification for the facility.
“Business-wise, we have greatly strengthened our capabilities in Volusia County and have grown our team to seven people,” said Toro, who has active distribution in six countries to date. He said the company recently received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their mandibular reconstruction solutions, which allows the company to begin selling its products in the United States.
TECHFIT’s innovative approach to healthcare goes beyond the standard operating procedures. It’s customized healthcare for each individual patient.
“The bone reconstruction segment works with standard implants and what I call the shoe store approach, where a large number of implants are sent to the operating room and the doctor intraoperatively finds the implant of best fit. Some doctors plan these surgeries on tracing paper and an X-ray to guesstimate which implant to use, but there’s still a lot of trial and error and a lot of waste due to inventory,” explained Toro.
“We digitize the whole experience. The surgeon can perform the surgery as many times as needed in a digital twin of the patient and then get the perfect implant and instruments for the procedure.”
Not only does this innovative technology allow for a better outcome, it’s streamlining the process for doctors.
“This is indeed personalized healthcare, some call it precision medicine. Using a digital surgery workflow reduces surgical times, which translates into a cost reduction, increase[d] surgeon accuracy and reduce[d] complications,” said Toro.
Excited by the innovative changes in his field over the past few decades, Dr. David Lloyd, stays abreast of the most cutting edge technology options for his patients at Indigo Dental in Daytona Beach.
Knowing that a smile is worth a thousand words, an appreciation for the relationship between artistry, materials science and healthcare fuels his passion to improve the quality of life for each patient.
“Technology has revolutionized our profession. Advances in adhesion and stronger, more life-like materials have allowed us to restore health and function like never before,” said Dr. Lloyd.
Advances in the dental industry have impacted every aspect of his practice, from how he communicates with his patients, colleagues and dental labs, to planning and performing procedures.
“The technology we use in our office serves to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care. As a business strategy, we look for ways to improve our patients’ experience and technology is a part of that,” he said, citing an easily relatable example.
“We use a computer assisted design and manufacturing system called CEREC. Instead of making traditional impressions with that goopy stuff in a tray that always seems to run down your throat, we make a digital scan of your teeth with a small camera. The data is used to create a 3D model of your teeth as well as a virtual crown, bridge or other restorations. The restoration is then milled from a special type of porcelain. We do all of this in a single visit in our office, saving the patient and us time and avoiding the inconvenience of a second visit,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd says TECHFIT is right on target by providing 3D printed custom plates or implants, addressing a range of issues from the painful temporomandibular joint (TMJ) defects to midface reconstruction and reconstructive bone grafts.
“The ability to plan and visualize the final outcome of implant supported dental reconstruction is a game changer. We can now manipulate components in the virtual realm and using 3D printing, create custom guides that allow us to select and place those components more precisely,” he said. “This can make the actual surgery faster and more predictable. In many cases the prosthesis can be made in advance and we have much more confidence that it will fit and appear exactly as we intended. It is a competitive and rapidly advancing field. I’m excited to learn more about TECHFIT’s latest innovations.”
Preparing to showcase the latest innovative technology, TECHFIT will host the 7th Global Digital Surgery Meeting in Daytona Beach in October. The conference will bring together more than 200 of the world’s best reconstructive surgeons, top-class researchers and engineers to create the surgical tools of the future and train young surgeons on better uses of the technology according to Toro.
“TECHFIT will also be launching a point of care system where smaller hospitals and ambulatory care centers can access 3D printing and 3D surgical planning technologies for a fraction of the cost of implementation today while maintaining the highest quality standards,” he said.
“Today more than 22.3 million bone reconstruction procedures in the craniomaxillofacial, orthopedic, and thoracic segments are performed each year. All of these surgeries are likely to have improved outcomes with better digital planning and personalized medical devices. We want to make custom the new standard and make this improved technology accessible to as many patients as possible around the world,” said Toro.