Switching to exocad was simple

June 6, 2024

Wayne Hall is not new to digital dentistry, but he is new to exocad software. He fell in love with the capabilities of the software at exocad Insights in 2022 and went all in. Wayne’s the Managing Director of Hall Dental Studio in Stockport, UK, and a total pro at high-level restorations. We caught up with him at Insights 2024 in Mallorca. Wayne shares his top tips on how to onboard both staff and clients with an exocad DentalCAD workflow. And he shares why exocad’s smile design program Smile Creator has been a game changer for him and his clients.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the dental field?

A: By mistake. I think all technicians get into this industry that way. It's not one of those industries where you say, ‘When I grow up, I'm going to be a dental technician.’ You just kind of fall into it, which is what happened to me. I actually wanted to make false limbs.

Q: False limbs?

A: My career advisor asked me what I thought about dental technology. ‘It's a bit behind the scenes, which is kind of what you want,’ she said. ‘It's a little bit like making false limbs, but you make false teeth instead.’ She told me about a lab in Salford that wanted to take on two apprentices. I walked into the lab, and the rest is history. I just fell in love with the industry, and everything about it really.

Q: Tell me about your lab. Where are you based?

A: I've been a technician since 1991, and I worked for the same company for most of my career. Then in 2006, my husband and I started up the lab in Stockport, just outside of Manchester, UK.

Q: When did you decide to adopt digital workflows at your lab?

A: As time went on, the technology became more affordable. Around the end of 2009, I bought a little desktop milling machine. It was probably one of the cheapest on the market, but it did the job. 

“The DentalCAD software has been integrated so well. I've got some amazing staff who absolutely love it. If something goes wrong, with exocad, you can just push a button and do it again.”

Q: Did you experience any challenges transitioning to digital workflows?

A: I did have some problems with staff thinking that these machines were going to take over and do their jobs. But as soon as they saw the benefits to them, everybody was fully on board. Once we were fully integrated, that was kind of it. To be perfectly honest, I would say that a lot of our manual skill set has gone now. The DentalCAD software has been integrated so well. I've got some amazing staff who absolutely love it. If something goes wrong, exocad software lets you just push a button and do it again.

Q: As the manual techniques become less necessary, do you find that there is more capacity to learn other skills?

A: Well, that’s it. It's just new learning. I think that's probably what I was so excited about because we were doing everything by hand, and then these machines came along that could do it quicker and better. As a lab owner, that’s really helped with my goal of keeping up consistency and quality.

Q: How many of your dental clinic customers are digital?

A: We're probably pushing 70 percent in terms of digital clients. Our model technician only makes models four hours a day. That's how little we cast with models.

Q: Are you encouraging the remaining 30 percent of clients to go digital?

A: I’ve been telling my clients the benefits of going digital and that they should invest in an intraoral scanner. We’re fully confident that this is the way we want to do our workflows. 

“Then I went to exocad Insights in Mallorca, and I saw what was happening with exocad’s software—how great it looked and how different it was. I was just completely blown away. I came away from Insights thinking, I need to get this software now.”

Q: How did you get your initial start with exocad?

A: I had been using another design software, and it’s a hard decision to switch because there is a cost to that when you've already got something in place. Initially, that's what held me back. Then I went to exocad Insights 2022 in Mallorca, and I saw what was happening with exocad’s software—how great it looked and how intuitive it was. I was just completely blown away. I came away from Insights thinking, I need to get this software now. Now, attending Insights 2024, I brought two of my technicians with me who regularly use exocad software with the goal that they learn more about the capabilities of the software and connect with the application specialists to learn more about the features of DentalCAD.

I want my team to leave Mallorca as enthused and motivated as I was back in 2022.

Wayne Hall Case

Wayne says Smile Creator recreates diagnostics very accurately, streamlining the manufacture of the final approved restoration.

Q: Do you have any favorite features?

A: We love Smile Creator. Every diagnostic gets done using that software now. It is absolutely brilliant, and dentists love it. They love the smile design report they get, and patients love it because it looks like the future. The dentists ask for this smile report because it's a brilliant selling tool for them. The other great thing is that it can copy the diagnostic precisely. Other design programs struggle to do that. That's been a massive help because you can spend all this time on the diagnostic side but when you come to do the finals, with some design programs, it doesn't always look like what you originally designed. But exocad copies it really well. That saves us so much time for doing the finals. And anything that saves us time is a win-win.

Q: How did you introduce your dentists to digital workflows with exocad?

A: I started sending things out to external designer Scott Hippey who designs using exocad. That was before I invested in the software. It was almost like a little taster for our dentists and of course, they loved it.

Q: Would you say that’s a good approach for labs thinking about transitioning to exocad? First work with an outside designer using exocad and get everyone warmed up before the transition?

A: Absolutely. And of course, we still use him now when people are away on holiday. That's helpful to have an outside designer on hand. It’s a great way to grow without taking on another member of staff because then the work might drop off. We can stay flexible.

Q: Do you use the exocad-iTero Connector™ to share and access case-related files with clients?

A: Yes, we do. The majority of the scans we receive are from iTero. They are our favorite scans to get because it's all in the MyiTero portal. Everything is quick, easy, and all your scans get automatically put into exocad’s DentalCAD software. You don't have to do anything.

Q: Any tips for other labs who want to get their technicians trained on exocad?

A: Everyone’s going to be different. But a great first step is to tap into the learning opportunities out there. I’d suggest checking out the training sessions you can book with exocad in the webshop. And get yourself an external designer who can help you. Like with exocad’s dentalshare, if you get stuck on anything, you can just send the case directly from DentalDB via dentalshare to the designer. 

Wayne‘s new puppy “Louis.“

Q: What's your passion outside of the lab?

A: We recently adopted a pup, a Sprocker-Spainel named Louis. As a working dog, he requires a lot of training and socializing. I do a lot of camping and hiking. I also enjoy diving.

Q: What's your favorite tooth?

A: The teeth I like doing the most, believe it or not, are single centrals when I've taken the shade. I do a lot of those. It’s probably my favorite tooth because it's just so challenging but rewarding if you get it right.

Q: Favorite song to sing at karaoke?

A: Bros, ‘When will I be famous?

Q: If exocad was an animal, which one would it be?

A: A penguin in the water—streamlined, fast and efficient.

Image Bio Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall, not your average dental technician, is a trailblazer in Smile Design—and is now rocking the digital game! His expertise goes beyond the lab as he advises UK lab techs, openly sharing his experience and interest in dental innovations, dental materials, and techniques. He holds regular study club-style meetups for his clients and colleagues at his lab, Hall Dental Studio in Stockport, UK. Previous engagements include lecturing for the British Academy of Restorative Dentistry at their Annual Conference and for Ivoclar UK. More recently, he's been active on the advisory board for Align Technology with iTero™ to represent the interest of laboratory owners in the fast-paced world of digitization, providing insights on how to successfully implement restorative digital workflows and collaborate with clinics that have intraoral scanners. He lectures on all ceramics across the UK and Ireland. But that's not all—this dental lab tech is now cooking up some research and development projects with digital partners.

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.