ABS Blog

Dental Spending Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Levels

According to the Health Policy Institute (HPI), national dental expenditures increased by 11% from 2020 to 2021, ADA reports. The data suggest that the dental economy recovered quickly from the pandemic-induced slowdown in the industry.


Dental spending by private health insurance and out of pocket rose from a combined $115 billion in 2020 to $128 billion in 2021. This after the sharp decline in 2020, down from a combined $130 billion in 2019.


In the chart above, the ‘Government Programs’ category includes Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs. The ‘Other’ category includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).

Combined, these two categories make up a total of around $34 billion in 2021, up from an all-time high of approximately $31 billion in 2020.


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Data Link Viewer & Lab Monitor Integration

ABS Evolution dental lab management software gives your lab the tools to know what’s going on with any case at any time. However, sometimes you just need to inform your employees about the status of cases they are working on.

Data Link Viewer from Millet Software is a third-party application that allows your Evolution reports to run on network connected monitors throughout your dental lab. These reports can be refreshed at specified time intervals so anyone viewing the monitors can see updated information nearly real-time.


Displaying updated report information on lab monitors is just one of the many features that come with the Data Link Viewer, Evolution integration. Your lab will also have the ability to create interactive reports and visualize the data in a chart format.

For more information about Data Link Viewer and it’s capabilities, you can visit the Millet Software website or check out Ido Millet’s YouTube channel.


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Digital: Making Dentistry Remarkable

There’s no doubt that the dental industry has undergone a massive transition into digital over the last several years. I recently read an article about dentists embracing digital methods and equating that to a purple cow. This, in reference to the 2009 book by Seth Godin, means that your dental practice becomes remarkable. What’s more remarkable than a purple cow, right?


Using digital tools to manage the workflow of a dentist’s patients has many advantages. These tools have become so common that it’s possible each step in a patient’s journey could include some sort of digital technique.

Patients can schedule their appointments through a digital web portal. At their appointment, dentists take digital scans of their teeth. That information can be sent, digitally, to a lab for design and milling or to be 3D printed. Communication between the dentists, labs and patients can be managed through email or messaging apps like WhatsApp. Then, information about their case can be stored to the cloud for ease of access by all parties. All of these methods can leave a digital record of each step of the patient’s process so that any individual working on a restoration is informed.

AI (artificial intelligence) applications can be used to show the patient their expected results before any treatment. Seeing these results can inspire the patient to take action and decide to begin treatment. When a patient has the ability to actually see the outcome, they’re not so focused on the treatment.


Digital dentistry solutions can improve the patient’s experience at the dentist tremendously. It gives them ultimate transparency in the process and an accurate glimpse into what the future could hold for their mouth. Making communicating easier and treatment plans clearer not only improves the patient’s attitude toward their dentist, it also enhances the experience for them and their doctor.

Some people may even say digital dentistry makes a practice remarkable, as a purple cow would be.



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Mobile Dentistry Sites Popping Up In Workplaces

Jet Dental is a pop-up dental clinic serving workplaces across the United States. They are collaborating with Humana to make access to oral health care easier.


Jet Dental CEO, Jordan Smith, said that 82% of their patients had not been to the dentist in over two years. He believes that the inconvenience and lack of access during the pandemic created the drop in dentist visits.

Since the pandemic, the effects of delayed dental care have become more prevalent. The CDC estimates that companies lose $45 billion per year due to oral care emergencies. Preventative care is the best way to reduce these oral emergencies. In come the mobile pop-up dental clinics.

Photo Credit: jetdental.com

What better way to help patients than to bring dentists to their workplace? This makes it easy and convenient for employees and employers alike, eliminating time off of work for oral healthcare appointments. One of the best things about a Jet Dental pop-up clinic coming to your workplace is no cost. Jet Dental works directly with the dental insurance a company already provides their employees.

When you offer dental care on-site at your place of business, you are showing your employees that you care about their overall health and wellbeing. Providing oral healthcare services in such a convenient way could help prevent your staff from developing gum disease and other, more serious, oral issues.


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VETSmile Celebrates One Year of Operation

VETSmile is a pilot program that provides dental care to veterans who do not qualify for dental benefits through the VA. Since the project launched last summer, it has served more than 2,200 patients.


VETSmile connects veterans to federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and dental schools to help improve their oral health management. These dental care partners may provide discounted services to the veterans.

This graphic shows two ways VETSmile supports Veterans in accessing community-based dental care:


The Center for Care and Payment Innovation in the Veteran’s Health administrations started the VETSmile pilot program to help those veterans who don’t qualify for dental care through the VA. This program connects those veterans with community dental care partners. These partners are enthusiastic about providing world-class care for our nation’s heroes.


Thank you, VETSmile, for ensuring that our soldiers are provided with the great dental care that they deserve. CONGRATS ON ONE YEAR!


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Tiny, Shapeshifting Robots Used to Clean Teeth

How do you feel about automating the tooth cleaning process through microrobot technology? Well, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania decided that they should try. The School of Dental Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science teamed up to create a shapeshifting micro swarm of iron oxide nanoparticles that can effectively clean plaque from teeth.


This microrobot technology was developed by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Pennsylvania. The building blocks of these microrobots are iron oxide nanoparticles that possess both catalytic and magnetic activity. The researchers showed that they could use a magnetic field to manipulate the nanoparticles’ shape and direct their motion. Using this magnetic activity, the microrobots could form either bristle-like structures or elongated strings that could sweep away dental plaque from broad surfaces and in between teeth.

The catalytic activity of the microrobot nanoparticles would activate hydrogen peroxide to release free radicals to help eliminate plaque and bacteria that cause tooth decay.

This electromagnetic system is “fully programmable” and can use different variations to control the stiffness and length of bristle formations. It can also determine the speed and motion of the microrobots depending on the topography of an individual’s oral cavity. The Penn team will continue optimizing the robots’ motions and determine the best mouth-fitting device to advance the innovation to the clinic.


The team at the University of Pennsylvania describes their microrobot technology as being particularly valuable to those who lack the manual dexterity to effectively clean their own teeth. The researchers found that this system cleaned surfaces of all detectible pathogens.

Professor Michael Koo says, “We’d love to see this helping the geriatric population and people with disabilities. We believe it will disrupt current modalities and majorly advance oral health care.”


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Viral TikTok Drink Has ADA Experts Cringing

Ah, TikTok. If you haven’t seen a “life hack” video on the platform, you most likely know someone who has. They’re usually not afraid to tell you, “I saw it on TikTok.”

The latest viral trend was posted a few weeks ago by a user named Amanda Jones. In the video, she claims her pilates instructor introduced her to a recipe for “healthy” coke. She goes on to demonstrate how to make the drink. First she pours a bit of balsamic vinegar over ice and then fills the glass the rest of the way with a LaCroix sparkling water.

@mandyvjones @LaCroix Sparkling Water ♬ original sound – Amanda Jones

In the video, Amanda swears that the drink tastes “just like” a coke. However, according to many others who’ve tried the concoction, it doesn’t. That didn’t stop the video from racking up 6.5 million views and hordes of people trying the drink for themselves.


The concept of combining sparkling water with vinegar to make a healthier sweet drink has been around for some time. Shrubs are fruit and vinegar-infused syrups that can be used in other drinks like cocktails, for example. Using a sweeter vinegar like balsamic eliminates the need to add sugars.


JADA Foundational Science recently published a study that found acidic, carbonated beverages have greater potential to cause dentinal erosion. Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association said, “I love balsamic vinegar, but I enjoy it more on my salad than in my drinking glass. It’s much kinder to the teeth than bathing them in a beverage blend of two acids.”

The problem is that balsamic vinegar and sparkling water are both very acidic drinks. So frequently drinking beverages like this appears to damage tooth enamel. I’ll probably just be sticking with water.


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2022 LMT Survey: Technology Transforming Caseloads

LMT Magazine’s recent issue features a report of their 2022 C&B caseload survey. The article provides a great view of how digital technology has impacted crown and bridge workloads. Here’s a breakdown:


Digitally fabricated C&B restorations continue to grow.

The study shows a 20% increase in the amount of digital work since 2015. This increase is likely due to the industry’s overall interest in digital workflows and zirconia.

Dentists are more accepting of newer technologies so they’re embracing digital impressions. The number doctors sending IO scans has jumped from 18% to 30% just since 2020.



Many dental laboratories have eliminated conventional fabrication techniques. Instead, they are relying on intraoral scans to design and mill as a full contour cases. This removes lengthy wax and stack steps while still providing an accurate and cost effective workflow.


In 2005, only 17% of all C&B workloads were metal free. Now, in 2022, a whopping 77% of crown and bridge restorations are created without metals. The significant switch is likely due to high alloy prices, labor-intensive PFM fabrications and superior strength of monolithic materials.

Most labs would agree that metal-free materials reduce remakes. A lot of older dentists, however, prefer metal-based restorations.  As these older dentists retire, the shift to metal-free will continue to accelerate even though full gold crowns may always be around.


44% of survey respondents say there as been no change in the number of veneer cases they are doing. 38% say that they are doing fewer veneer cases over the last five years. Only 18% of dental labs claim to be doing more veneers.

More dentists seem to be opting for full coverage crowns because of technique sensitivity and somewhat high failure rate of veneers. A lot of the time the esthetics of veneers can be easily accomplished with zirconia and disilicate/silicate.



The share of full contour cases in the lab has grown from 45% in 2015 to 74% in 2022. The continued growth is driven by full contour zirconia, improvements in translucency and availability of multilayer materials and color systems. It appears that full contour zirconia is “here forever.”


Zirconia seems to be the medium of choice these days due to its strength, esthetics and tissue response. The next big game changer? PRINTABLE zirconia and other ceramic resins.


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EvoDOCTOR Portal Update

ABS has offered the EvoDOCTOR Portal as an add-on module for Evolution dental lab management software for many years. Since that time, the EvoDOCTOR Portal has “evolved” to improve functionality and integrate newer technologies. Automated email notifications and Evolution pop-up capabilities have also been included in newer versions of the EvoDOCTOR Portal and the Evolution dental lab management solution.

We decided to update the EvoDOCTOR Portal video with a more current representation as it’s been nearly five years since the last video. Todays video explains new features and how information can be shared directly with the Evolution database and individuals at your lab.

You can view the video here for more information:



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Oral Microbiome and Overall Health

It’s well known that the food we eat influences the makeup of the bacteria in our mouths. This oral microbiome relies on both good and bad bacteria, and plays a larger role in our overall health. Studies show that oral bacteria can change the gut’s microbiota and how your body absorbs nutrients.


The University of Buffalo conducted a study that looked at the oral health of postmenopausal women and the effect of a sugary, high-glycemic diet on their oral microbiome. This study used data from Women’s Health Initiative and was the first study to examine carbohydrate intake and sub gingival microbiome. This means that they took plaque from under the tongue (instead of saliva). Amy Millen, PhD, says that “…oral bacteria involved in periodontal disease are primarily residing in the subgingival plaque.”

The study showed that there was a positive association between high carbohydrate, glycemic foods and Streptococcus mutans, a contributor to tooth decay and some types of cardiovascular disease. The scientists also observed Leptotrichia spp., which has been linked to gingivitis, to be positively associated with sugar intake.


How can you improve your oral microbiome and overall health? Well, mouthwash after eating may not be the answer. According to MGB Heath, “Oral bacteria are important for gut and metabolic health, so you don’t want to sweep them all away with an antiseptic mounthwash.”

Image Credit: return2health.com.au

Since the oral microbiome is the “portal to gut health,” it requires both good and bad bacteria for optimal performance. You don’t want to destroy that with a mouthwash that would kill the majority of all of the bacteria in your mouth. Instead, lower your intake of carbohydrates and sugar. Prevotella (a species of oral bacteria) comes from leafy greens and is essential for converting nitrates into nitrites. Those nitrites play a major role in brain health, metabolic health, blood flow and immunity.


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