Navigating the unexpected with digital dentistry

July 8, 2024

We talk about freedom when it comes to exocad software—how the open way exocad software works puts power into the hands of creative designers. That’s what attracted Marjorie Andrade. For her, that passion for creating beautiful restorations with exocad also translated into the freedom to leave her home in Brazil and move to New Zealand as a digital dental lab tech and exocad educator for the Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD). Marjorie shares how she approaches teaching others about exocad and talks about her favorite tools.

Q: Your first degree was in industrial design, where you did a lot of 3D modeling. How did you segue into dental CAD design?

A: When I left college, I wanted to work as a prototype maker—doing 3D modeling and using 3D printers or milling machines to create what I’d imagined. While at university, I started to study more about 3D printing, and how it was already revolutionizing the dental field. After I graduated in 2016, I worked for two years as an industrial designer and graphic designer, but I wasn't happy. I felt lost and unfulfilled in my job. My mom drove by a tech school that was having an info session outside, and she suggested I take a look. I did, and it was so cool. In 2019, I started a degree in dental technology. In Brazil, it's not a bachelor. It's a two-year course. I finished in 2020 and got my first job as a dental tech. 

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Marjorie shares some of her favorite DentalCAD tools.

Q: How did you get your start in the field?

A: I went to labs and asked if I could watch and not even get paid. I was cleaning, making coffee, and just observing for the first three months. Eventually, I got an internship and was paid a really low salary, just to get experience. Then a little before COVID, I got an opportunity at a fully digital lab where I was living in Brazil. They were using another software, not exocad. When I went there, they said, ‘We’ve been hearing about exocad. Everyone's saying it’s good. Do you want to try it?’ They knew that I had this background as a 3D modeler, so they thought I would learn it quickly. They hired a dental tech from another lab to teach me DentalCAD for a full week. When he left, I just learned by trial and error.

Q: Did you use the exocad wiki site for guidance?

A: In the beginning, I didn't. I went mostly online to exocad chat groups to get advice. Now I do. The wiki is really interactive and intuitive because of the very helpful animations.

Q: How did you go from working at a lab to running education programs at the Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD) in New Zealand?

A: I was always very active on social media, which got me a lot of attention from the dental community. When I was at the lab, I was always taking screenshots, pictures of the work, comparing the DentalCAD version with the actual milled units—advertising my skills. Eventually, I met the director of iDD, Dr. Ahmad Al-Hassiny on Instagram, and we started talking about cases. He said iDD Lab was looking for a digital dental tech for the in-house lab.  

Q: Which exocad software do you use the most?

A: I focus on DentalCAD. These days, I’m trying to use the Full Denture Module more because we have PM7 from Ivoclar. I'm about to start designing digital dentures to mill using the IvotionTM Denture System. I want to start doing more removables. 

“Something great in the new DentalCAD 3.2 Elefsina is that we, as lab techs, have ways to fix problems and correct imperfect scans. The last thing the dentist wants is to call the patient and get another scan.” 

Q: Why do you prefer exocad over other design software?

A: exocad makes very open software. You can go into the XML files and do some customization and personalize your layouts. I'm into that because I'm a bit of a nerd. I used to spend hours not working, just exploring everything. This freedom is what I like the most about exocad software. That's what I want to teach others as well. I want to give the people attending the course the freedom to be problem solvers and not depend on other people to solve problems for them.

Q: How do you plan and construct your exocad courses for iDD?

A: I didn't approach the course with just the idea of "how to make a restoration." I wanted to show each tool and step in detail. Not just click, click, next. I want people to understand the power of DentalCAD. This way they’ll also understand workarounds when you don’t receive perfect data. I had one student write to me to say that after the course he feels confident, even when there is a problem, that there is always another way to approach it in the software. 

“exocad software offers tools to deal with the unexpected because, in dental, the unexpected is pretty common.”

Q: What do you think are the most important elements to cover in an exocad course?

A: exocad software offers tools to deal with the unexpected because, in dental, the unexpected is pretty common. A lot of dentists are getting into digital, but they are not getting proper training. So when they scan, even if the scan has holes or the bites are not right, they send it anyway. Something great in the new DentalCAD 3.2 Elefsina is that we, as lab techs have ways to fix problems and correct imperfect scans. The last thing the dentist wants is to call the patient and get another scan. 

Q: Any favorite DentalCAD tools?

A: I like doing anatomic waxups. It's so good how you can add as many meshes as you want. You can use the DICOM and facial scans and everything merges perfectly with the gum. Then you have some tools to do reduction so you can layer the porcelain. It makes it so easy for us. With exocad software, I always love the freedom to go back and forth if I need to change something, I don't lose anything. I just go back to that point where I need change it. Like implant connection or minimum thickness, whatever I want. And I don't lose anything. It's all saved and fixed.

Q: If you could go anywhere for the weekend, where would you go?

Marjorie shows a workflow of a waxup and crown lengthening guide.

A: I would go to Brazil to see my family and to spend the day on the beach.

Q: Favorite song at the moment?

A: I've been listening to a lot of Brazilian songs. So I would say, ‘Meu Lugar’ by Arlindo Cruz.

Q: Favorite tooth?

A: I like the upper canines. It just brings us together with all mammals and reminds us that we're just animals like them.

Q: One word for exocad?

A: Extraordinary.

exoBlog Bio Image Marjorie Andrade

Marjorie Andrade is a talented dental CAD designer from Santa Catarina, Brazil. With a bachelor’s degree in industrial design and a diploma in dental technology, she honed her skills working with high-end laboratories in Brazil with a focus on cosmetic cases. Marjorie delivered hundreds of units per month to clients worldwide, consistently producing top-quality work. She currently works at iDD Dental Lab in New Zealand and has taken her extensive knowledge and passion for exocad, paired it with her industry experience, and directed it all into creating a highly effective, comprehensive and easy-to-follow course called “Mastering exocad” to help dental professionals around the world elevate their exocad skills. See Marjorie's work on her website or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

by Caitlan Reeg
Writer at exocad

Caitlan Reeg spends her days telling the world about the innovations her colleagues create. She’s passionate about healthcare, technology, and the ways the two interact to improve our lives. A former journalist, Caitlan has worked on staff at Dow Jones Newswires in Frankfurt and at the national public radio program Marketplace in Los Angeles.