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January 31, 2024

In this digital age, dental practices are continuously evolving with technological advancements with the introduction of dental Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to dental practices and laboratories marking a significant step into what we now refer to as 'digital dentistry.' 

Dental CAD software provides dentists and dental technicians with advanced tools for designing prosthetics like crowns, veneers, bridges, splints, occlusal guards, and implant surgical guides. 

AI integrations are becoming increasingly more widespread as technology improves and new applications are released by developers worldwide. This gives dental professionals a wide range of CAD software to utilize for more precise diagnoses, efficient treatments, and superior patient outcomes.

But what exactly is CAD software in dentistry? What options do dental professionals have, and how do you choose which dental CAD software suits your practice?

To help you navigate the market, iDD has compiled a comprehensive list of all available dental CAD software. 

Otherwise, enjoy our comprehensive guide and comment below if you have any questions.

What is CAD Software in Dentistry?

Dental CAD software lets practitioners create virtual 3D models of a patient's oral anatomy from digital scans taken intraorally or via impression scanning. 

These virtual representations can be manipulated and modified within the program to plan restorative procedures such as crowns, bridges, or implants with exceptional accuracy before they're even commenced - significantly reducing the guesswork involved traditionally.

Additionally, these systems have been instrumental in fostering collaboration between professionals involved in patient care - making it possible for labs and clinics across geographical boundaries to work together seamlessly toward shared goals.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Dental CAD Software

Choosing the right dental CAD software can be a game-changer for your practice, so deciding on the right dental CAD software shouldn’t just be some random process. You should consider several factors before making this critical decision.

Usability of Dental CAD Software

The emphasis on user-friendly interfaces have never been higher than now in these top-notch CAD software solutions. Developers understand that time saved learning the ropes means more productivity and better patient outcomes - something we can all get behind.

The best dental CAD software should let you work efficiently and effectively with some dental specific tools and options. It needs an intuitive interface that makes sense even if you're new to digital dentistry.

This article offers some helpful tips on what features make software user-friendly.

Automation Capabilities of Dental CAD Software

A robust suite of design tools is essential for creating precise and accurate prosthetics like crowns, veneers, bridges, splints, occlusal guards, or implant surgical guides. Look for software that offers a comprehensive range of these design tools for detailed modeling and customization of dental restorations. 

Some software provides simulation capabilities to predict the outcome of dental restorations, which can be invaluable for complex cases. More advanced functionalities allow for greater customization in treatment planning and execution. 

Compatibility of Dental CAD Software

The software should be compatible with various operating systems and hardware, ensuring smooth operation in different dental practice setups. While some software is proprietary and only compatible with products from the same manufacturer, other software is 'open.' 

Closed systems offer ease of use and consistency but at the cost of flexibility and potentially higher expenses.

On the other hand, open systems provide flexibility and adaptability to new technologies but may require more effort to ensure compatibility and integration.

Training Material of Dental CAD Software

Digital dental training, especially in CAD, is now more accessible than ever with the wealth of resources available online and from software manufacturers. Having reliable tech support can save the day if something goes wrong (and sometimes it will). Moreover, access to training resources will help you get the most out of your chosen software.

Additionally, many other online platforms like Facebook user groups, YouTube, and blogs provide valuable information to help you learn about and implement 3D printing.

Between formal training programs, software support, and informal community platforms, dental professionals have many outlets to master critical digital skills like CAD.

iDD offers comprehensive education on all aspects of digital dentistry. You can check out our range of online courses here

Cost Effectiveness of Dental CAD Software

Dental CAD software comes with different pricing models, with subscription-based or perpetual licenses being standard.

Weighing up costs against benefits will give insight into whether it's worth investing more upfront or spreading payments over time. 

Analyze the long-term costs, including updates, support, and additional modules, to understand the total cost of ownership and evaluate the potential ROI by considering factors like time savings, improved treatment outcomes, and customer satisfaction.


iDD Tip

Check if the software offers a free trial period to test its functionalities before purchasing. 


Finding what fits best into your workflow involves weighing up different factors, as we mentioned above, offered by each vendor. The right fit would balance these elements based on your specific requirements. 

Remember that the best dental CAD software for your practice is not necessarily the most expensive or feature-rich. There is no universal answer regarding dental CAD software - it's about locating an appropriate solution for your unique requirements and easily integrating it into your work process.

The Ultimate Guide to Dental CAD Software in 2024

It’s 2024, and dental CAD software choices are more diverse than ever.

Finding the right dental CAD software for your needs can be daunting with a myriad of dental CAD software available. Still, you can make an informed decision with careful research and consideration of its efficiency, usability, and adaptability. 

In no particular order, here are some of the best dental CAD software currently available today:

Exocad DentalCAD

Exocad DentalCAD stands out due to its robust and reliable functionalities that allow you to design all kinds of restorations effortlessly. 

Known for its modular structure, it allows professionals to customize the software based on their needs. Exocad DentalCAD supports many restorative and orthodontic applications, including crowns, bridges, veneers, dentures, and aligners. Its intuitive interface and extensive library of dental components make it a popular choice for achieving detailed and accurate restoration designs.

Its open architecture makes it compatible with most systems. The advantage of exocad lies in its flexibility – it’s designed to work seamlessly across various scanner technologies, making it an ideal choice if you’re using multiple devices or considering changing your hardware setup down the line. However, while powerful, it can be complex for beginners due to its broad functionality.

You can also access the best comprehensive exocad training available with iDD here and master exocad online with 70 meticulously crafted lessons from our own iDD Lab Dental Technician - Marjorie Andrade.

Want to Start Learning?

Access the entire course for $790 USD with payment plans available.

You can also buy the Fundamental, Intermediate and Advanced Modules on their own.

Each Module purchase includes current and future lessons that are added to it - your purchase will only increase in value.

If you have been a membership subscriber for over a year contact support to get your discount code.

Mastering exocad

Fundamentals

Access 30 exocad online training lessons designed for total beginners to exocad. In 3 hours this module will give you the confidence to tackle fundamental restorative exocad designs.

US$ 290

  • 3 Hours
  • 30 Lessons
  • 10 Chapters

Payment Plans Available

Mastering exocad

Intermediate

Access 25 intermediate exocad online training lessons to take your skills to the next level. The next 3 hours in this module will elevate your knowledge to work on more exocad design workflows.

US$ 290

  • 3 Hours
  • 25 Lessons
  • 9 Chapters

Payment Plans Available

Mastering exocad

Advanced

Access 15 exocad online training lessons for advanced exocad users and master complex design workflows. Grow your capabilities to handle advanced restorative exocad design workflows.

US$ 390

  • 2 Hours
  • 15 Lessons
  • 6 Chapters

Payment Plans Available

Planmeca PlanCAD Easy and PlanCAD Premium

Planmeca offers two distinct dental design software solutions: PlanCAD Easy and PlanCAD Premium, each catering to different professional needs in dentistry.

Specifically created for dentists, PlanCAD Easy is designed for sophisticated 3D design and planning within a dental clinic setting. You can go one step further with PlanCAD Premium, an advanced software for creating dental prosthetics known for its ease of use, comprehensive selection of indications, and adaptability to different user needs, making it suitable for high-end prosthodontic works.

PlanCAD's advanced features, such as intuitive drawing tools and enhanced visualization capabilities, make designing prosthetics more efficient. But bear in mind - while innovation brings ease-of-use benefits, mastering new tech may require additional training time.

Dental Wings DWOS

Part of the Straumann Group brand, Dental Wings DWOS (Dental Wings Open Software) is a versatile CAD software for dental professionals, offering a wide array of tools for designing and manufacturing dental restorations. 

DWOS is known for its open architecture, allowing compatibility with various scanners and milling machines. This software excels in its comprehensive range of applications, including crowns, bridges, implants, and dentures. It facilitates a high degree of customization and precision in dental restoration design - proving itself versatile enough to meet diverse needs in your practice.

CEREC SW by Dentsply Sirona

CEREC SW, one of Dentsply Sirona’s CAD software, is renowned for revolutionizing chairside dental restoration. It enables dentists to design and fabricate dental restorations like crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays directly in the clinic, often in a single visit. 

The software is known for its precision, user-friendly interface, and speed, making it a favorite for practices aiming to provide efficient, high-quality restorative care. Integrating CEREC milling units allows for seamless in-house production, offering patients a fast and convenient restorative experience.

It also possesses advanced features like biojaw algorithm that helps create natural-looking restoration proposals automatically - saving time while maintaining quality output.

DTX Studio from Envista

DTX Studio by Envista is an integrated dental software suite that provides comprehensive dental imaging and case management solutions. 

The DTX Studio dental software ecosystem improves patient visits every time, for every patient. It supports various dental disciplines, including implantology, orthodontics, and restorative dentistry. The software facilitates seamless integration and collaboration between dental technologies and devices, offering tools for 3D imaging, treatment planning, and patient communication. 

DTX Studio's strength lies in its ability to consolidate patient data and imaging in a single platform, enhancing diagnostic accuracy and treatment efficiency.

3Shape Dental System

3Shape Dental System is a leading CAD software in digital dentistry. It offers innovative scanning and design solutions catering to lab-side and chairside workflows. It has a comprehensive suite of tools for designing and manufacturing a wide range of dental restorations and orthodontic appliances. 

Known for its precision, versatility, and user-friendly interface, the Dental System enables dental professionals to create high-quality crowns, bridges, implants, dentures, and more. The software integrates smoothly with various scanners and milling machines, supporting a streamlined digital workflow from scanning to final production.

3Shape Studio, on the other hand, is a platform that combines various applications offered by 3Shape. These apps cater to specific dental procedures and workflows, such as implant planning, orthodontic treatments, and patient engagement. Each app within the 3Shape Studio ecosystem is designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of dental practices, providing tailored solutions for different aspects of digital dentistry.

Become familiar with 3Shape’s CAD software with iDD’s “Introduction to 3Shape Dental System” online course here.

Zirkonzahn.Software 

Zirkonzahn has made quite an impression with its comprehensive system - Zirkonzahn.Software. It is designed for dental laboratories and practices and offers various functionalities for designing and manufacturing dental prosthetics and restorations. 

The software is known for its precision and versatility, allowing users to create highly detailed and customized dental solutions such as crowns, bridges, implants, and dentures. It supports a seamless workflow, from scanning to design and milling, ensuring high-quality results. 

Zirkonzahn.Software stands out for its intuitive user interface, which makes it accessible to both experienced technicians and newcomers to digital dentistry. Additionally, it is regularly updated with new features and improvements, reflecting the company's commitment to innovation and user needs. 

Medit ClinicCAD by Medit

A cloud-based collaboration tool within the Medit Link interface, Medit ClinicCAD is another dental CAD software that streamlines workflows. It has various features, such as automatic case management or real-time order tracking, making collaborating on complex cases across different locations more accessible.

Medit ClinicCAD is particularly noted for its compatibility with Medit's advanced intraoral scanners, enabling seamless integration of digital impressions into the design process.

The software provides a user-friendly interface, facilitating easy creation and modification of dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, and veneers. It's also capable of handling more complex prosthetic and orthodontic appliances. 

The precision and efficiency of Medit ClinicCAD help dental professionals achieve accurate and aesthetically pleasing results, thus enhancing patient satisfaction. This software represents a significant step forward in digital dentistry, offering a blend of innovation, accuracy, and ease of use for the modern dental practitioner.

Read more about Medit ClinicCAD on iDD’s blog here.

Romexis by Planmeca

In addition to Planmeca’s PlanCAD Easy, Planmeca also offers an all-in-one software solution, Romexis, which allows for designing restorations. This versatile platform integrates seamlessly with Planmeca's range of dental equipment, including digital imaging devices, CAD/CAM systems, and 3D scanners.

Romexis features a wide array of tools for diagnostic, restorative, orthodontic, and surgical applications, enabling dentists to capture, view, and analyze high-quality images such as X-rays, 3D scans, and photographs. 

Its user-friendly interface supports efficient workflow management, making it easier for dental teams to collaborate and share information. One of the critical strengths of Romexis is its ability to provide detailed 3D views and treatment simulations, aiding in more accurate and efficient treatment planning.

With its powerful imaging capabilities and comprehensive approach to dental care, Planmeca Romexis has become an indispensable tool in modern dental practices, striving to enhance patient care and operational efficiency.

DentalCAD by EGSolutions 

DentalCAD by EGSolutions is a highly advanced, user-friendly CAD software designed for the dental industry. It's tailored to meet the needs of both dental laboratories and clinics, offering a wide range of tools for designing dental restorations and prosthetics. 

The software stands out for its precision and flexibility, enabling users to create detailed designs for crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays, onlays, and even more complex prosthetic elements. DentalCAD is compatible with various scanning technologies, ensuring seamless integration into the digital workflow. 

Its intuitive interface and comprehensive features facilitate a streamlined design process, making it accessible to experienced technicians and those new to digital dentistry. EGSolutions has focused on incorporating the latest technology in DentalCAD, ensuring high-quality results and efficiency in dental restoration design, thereby enhancing the capabilities of dental professionals to deliver personalized and precise patient care.

VITA Assist by VITA Zahnfabrik 

Aimed specifically at facilitating communication between dentists and labs or patients, VITA Assist is a sophisticated dental software application designed to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of dental procedures. 

Primarily focused on dental aesthetics, this software provides a comprehensive platform for dentists and dental technicians to visualize and plan dental restorations and cosmetic treatments. VITA Assist incorporates advanced imaging and simulation tools, enabling users to create detailed representations of anticipated results before treatment begins. This helps in-patient consultation, improving communication, and setting realistic expectations. 

The software's ability to simulate various dental scenarios, including color matching, shape adjustments, and alignment corrections, makes it a valuable tool for treatment planning. VITA Assist thus stands out as a crucial aid in modern dental practices, facilitating improved patient outcomes and satisfaction through precise and predictable aesthetic planning.

Blender by Blenderfordental CAD Software

Blender, by Australian company Blenderfordental, is an up-and-coming dental CAD software that leverages the capabilities of the widely-used Blender software, integrating custom tools and features specific to dental applications.

This software provides a comprehensive 3D modeling, sculpting, and rendering suite, making it highly suitable for creating detailed dental models. 

Users can benefit from its precision in designing prosthetics, orthodontic appliances, and other dental restorations. Blenderfordental aims to offer a more accessible and cost-effective solution for digital dentistry, catering to dentists, orthodontists, and dental technicians who require accurate and efficient tools for their practice.

Clinux CAD by CAD-Ray

CAD-Ray’s software, Clinux CAD, is a CAD platform tailored for clinical and healthcare applications. It's designed to provide medical professionals, particularly those in orthopedics, dentistry, and prosthetics, with robust and precise tools for designing medical devices and aids. 

Clinux offers advanced 3D modeling, simulation, and analysis features, enabling users to create detailed anatomical models and custom medical solutions. The software integrates smoothly with medical imaging data, allowing for accurate reconstructions and adaptations from patient-specific scans. This integration is particularly beneficial for creating personalized implants, prosthetics, and surgical guides. 

Clinux aims to streamline the design process in medical settings, enhancing the ability of healthcare professionals to provide patient-specific care with high accuracy and efficiency.

Blue Sky Bio

Blue Sky Bio is a comprehensive dental software platform that offers advanced solutions for implant planning, orthodontics, and guided surgery. Renowned for its versatility and user-friendly interface, it allows dental professionals to plan and execute complex dental procedures effectively. 

The software is particularly notable for its robust features in implantology, including a wide range of implant systems and prosthetic components. It integrates seamlessly with various imaging modalities, facilitating accurate 3D treatment planning and simulation.

Blue Sky Bio also supports the creation of surgical guides, enhancing precision in implant placement. The software provides tools for detailed case assessment and appliance design in orthodontics. 

Its affordability and open-system approach stands out, offering compatibility with multiple scanner types and manufacturing options. Blue Sky Bio is a valuable asset for dental practitioners seeking to incorporate digital technology into their practice, enhancing clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Learn how to use the popular free CAD software by Blue Sky Bio to plan your implants with iDD here.

Dentsply Sirona’s  inLab 

inLab, also from Dentsply Sirona, is a comprehensive CAD/CAM solution for dental laboratories. This software provides a wide range of design capabilities for prosthetics, implantology, and orthodontics. 

inLab is particularly valued for its flexibility and precision, allowing dental technicians to create complex restorations and dental appliances with high accuracy. The software supports digital workflows and integrates with various scanners and milling machines, streamlining the production process in the lab setting.

TL;DR - Choosing Which Dental CAD Software is Right for You

Choosing the best software depends on your needs and practice setup. 

Consider what features are most important for your workflow and type of procedures. You'll also want to factor in your office's operating system(s) and ensure compatibility with your existing hardware and devices. 

Evaluating these critical criteria in the context of your unique practice will help determine which dental CAD software is the optimal match to enhance your digital dentistry capabilities.

When picking dental CAD software in 2024, consider the following: 

Exocad DentalCAD for an all-rounder CAD software.

Planmeca PlanCAD offers PlanCAD Easy for basic restorations and PlanCAD Premium for more complex cases, integrating with their user-friendly digital dentistry suite. 

Dental Wings is a versatile, open-architecture dental CAD software supporting a variety of restoration designs.

CEREC SW revolutionizes chairside dental restoration with its in-clinic, same-visit design and fabrication capabilities. 

DTX Studio is an all-in-one dental imaging and management software that enhances diagnostic and treatment efficiency.

3Shape Dental System for cutting-edge technology with advanced design tools. 

Zirkonzahn.Software for efficient, precise, and tailored patient care.

Medit ClinicCAD is where affordability meets quality.

Planmeca Romexis for innovative features to enhance patient care and operational efficiency.

EGSolution’s DentalCAD combines advanced dental design with user-friendly functionality for clinics and labs.

VITA Assist streamlines dental procedures with advanced imaging for planning and simulating aesthetic treatments.

Blender offers precise 3D modeling for prosthetics and restorations at an accessible cost.

Clinux CAD streamlines medical design with advanced 3D modeling and patient-specific imaging integration for orthopedics, dentistry, and prosthetics.

Blue Sky Bio offers affordability without compromising features.

inLab is a flexible CAD/CAM solution for dental labs, offering a wide range of design options for prosthetics and orthodontics.

Ultimately, staying informed on the latest offerings and improvements can help you make an educated choice that supports your business growth and patient satisfaction. 


iDD Tip

Keep exploring the options outlined above to stay ahead of the curve.


Conclusion

The landscape of dental CAD software continues expanding, each bringing unique offerings tailored towards specific needs within the industry – from standalone design tools to complete workflow ecosystems incorporating multiple steps of the patient care process into one seamless flow.

Each of these systems has its strengths and weaknesses; hence, it’s essential to understand their specific needs before investing in them. 

To ensure you get the right tool for your practice, consider factors such as ease of use, compatibility with existing hardware or other programs you may be using, and customer support provided by the company behind each product before making any decision.

The best dental CAD software isn't a one-size-fits-all solution but matches your unique needs and workflow.

Remember, it's all about what suits your practice. Dive deeper into each option, compare them side by side - and then make that informed choice for your digital dentistry journey in 2024.

While this list covers some notable options available today, there will always be a learning curve when adopting new technologies into your workflow.

Investing in training for your team to use these tools and provide the best care possible effectively is vital.

Let us know in the comments below which dental CAD software you use in your practice!

About the author 

Alessandra Paras

Alessandra is a dental technician who has previously worked in CAD/CAM and acrylic work. She completed her Bachelor of Dental Technology with First Class Honours at the University of Otago. Alessandra is enthusiastic about dental education and learning all about the digital advancements within the industry. She currently works as the Marketing and Social Media Co-ordinator at the Institute of Digital Dentistry whilst also providing insights from a dental technician’s point of view.

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