Josh Hallquist, a 2016 metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM alumnus, never thought he would be designing dental crowns after he finished college.
“Obviously you can go into the jewelry-making field, or product design or some people have gone on to design shoes, basically anything that can be designed on a computer, but I never thought I would end up here,” Hallquist said.
Hallquist is participating in the pilot program for a collaboration between the metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM program and the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple.
The metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM program teaches students about the history of object-making and the techniques involved in the field.
The different fields came together as an unlikely match when Amid Ismail, the dean of the School of Dentistry, noticed a lack of digital dentistry technicians in the field.
Before the emergence of digital dentistry, dental crown-making was a lengthy process that could take up to two weeks, Hallquist said. Digital dentistry has moved all processes of the design of tooth crowns to a computer — before the movement to digital dentistry, a dentist would spend hours carving a design out of wax.
“Digital dentistry is gaining significant momentum,” Ismail said. “Now all process of the design and milling are done electronically. It makes a big difference in terms of time and efficiency.”
Ismail said he knew about the metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM program and wanted to use the skills students learned to speed up the process of dental procedures.
Hallquist said students in the program learn primarily through a digital software called Rhino. The jewelry designs completed in Rhino are 3-D-printed and assembled by the student, which is a process not much different from what Hallquist does now as the first digital dental technician at the School of Dentistry.
“The idea came that maybe because we are doing digital designs of teeth…it’s not different from a bracelet or maybe an earring designed by a Tyler digital CAD/CAM student,” Ismail said.
Ismail reached out to Tyler’s Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Carmina Cianciulli, who recruited Hallquist to intern with a digital dental lab called the Custom Milling Center in Golden, Colorado. The Custom Milling Center owner donated digital dentistry equipment in January to the dental school.
For two months over the summer, Hallquist learned how to design crowns and the milling process of turning digital crown designs into tangible pieces.
“It was very successful and we decided to hire him to continue on this pilot and work with faculty at Kornberg,” Ismail said.
Hallquist uses the skills he learned from Tyler and the digital lab in Colorado to complete the crown-making process at Temple’s School of Dentistry. In a digital software program called Planmeca Romexis, Hallquist designs and manipulates a dental crown specially fitted for each patient’s mouth.
Next, the design heads to a mill where it is transformed from a digital image to a real-life dental crown for a patient — a process that only takes a few hours.
Unlike the jewelry pieces he made during his time at Tyler, Hallquist never gets to see the finished product once a patient has the crown installed.
“Although there is a lot less freedom with [crown-making] it’s still art,” Hallquist said. “It’s just a more practical form of art because it goes into someone’s mouth,”
Ismail said he is interested to see how things work out with Hallquist’s new digital dentistry position. Once the crown-making process is perfected, Ismail’s goal is to have all the appliances put in patient’s mouths created digitally.
“If this model is successful, we basically opened a new line of career options for Tyler graduates in art, so they could become digital dentistry technicians,” Ismail said.
Administrators of Tyler and the School of Dentistry plan to continue their collaboration, Cianciulli said.
“We are also continuing to look for work to install so that the collaboration is not just in CAD, but across other disciplines,” Cianciulli said. “We have highly accomplished researchers in all of our medical fields at Temple and we have incredibly talented artists and researchers at Tyler so really the sky’s the limit.”
Kaitlyn Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.