Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry
Research and Education|Articles in Press

Comparative cost-analysis for removable complete dentures fabricated with conventional, partial, and complete digital workflows


      Statement of problem

      Comparative cost-analysis related to different manufacturing workflows for removable complete denture fabrication is seldom performed before the adoption of a new technology.


      The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical and laboratory costs of removable complete dentures fabricated with a conventional (workflow C), a partial digital (workflow M), and a complete digital (workflow D) workflow and to calculate the break-even points for the implementation of digital technologies in complete denture fabrication.

      Material and methods

      Clinical and laboratory costs for each of the investigated workflows and the manufacturing options related to denture base and denture teeth fabrication were collected from 10 private Italian dental laboratories and clinics. The selected variables included the clinical and laboratory manufacturing time needed to complete each workflow (opportunity cost); costs for materials, labor, packaging, and shipping; and capital and fixed costs for software and hardware, including maintenance fees. The effect of manufacturing workflows and their options on the outcomes of interest was investigated by using generalized estimated equations models (α=.05). Cost minimization and sensitivity analysis were also performed, and break-even points were calculated for the equipment capital costs related to the implementation of workflows M and D.


      From a laboratory standpoint, workflows M and D and related manufacturing options significantly (P<.001) reduced manufacturing time (5.90 to 6.95 hours and 6.30 to 7.35 hours, respectively), and therefore the opportunity cost of each denture compared with workflow C. Workflow M allowed variable costs savings between 81 and 169 USD, while workflow D allowed for an additional saving of 34 USD. The sensitivity analysis showed that the break-even point related to the capital investment for the equipment needed to implement workflows M and D could be reached, depending on the manufacturing options adopted, between 170 and 933 dentures for workflow M and between 73 and 534 dentures for workflow D. From a clinical standpoint, workflows C and M were almost identical. Conversely, workflow D, which included intraoral scanning, required 1 fewer appointment, saving 0.6 hours of chairside time and about 14 USD for materials compared with M.


      Digital workflows (partial and complete digital workflows) were more efficient and cost-effective than the conventional method of fabricating removable complete dentures, with workflow D showing the lowest opportunity and variable costs and break-even point. Savings increased when stock denture teeth were replaced with milled denture teeth and still further with the adoption of 3-dimensionally (3D) printed denture teeth. Milling equipment and materials for denture base fabrication were more expensive than those for 3D-printing. Milling monobloc dentures reduced opportunity and labor costs but increased material cost.
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