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The Rise of 3D Printing in Dentistry

A team member uses 3D printing to create a dental appliance for a patient in Wilmington at CarolinasDentist

3D printing is making a splash in several fields and dentistry is no exception! This innovative technology has revolutionized the way dentists approach their craft, offering remarkable benefits in precision, efficiency, and patient care. With its ability to create highly detailed dental prosthetics and models, 3D printing has become an indispensable tool in modern dentistry. CarolinasDentist Wilmington is thrilled to be ahead of the curve and already incorporating this new technology into our services. Read on to learn more about 3D printing and what impact it’s had on our Wilmington office!

Dental Surgical Guides

Perhaps the most powerful impact 3D printing has made at our office is through surgical guides. These models are created by using 3D printing technology to convert digital scans of a patient’s oral cavity into physical replicas. By accurately replicating the patient’s anatomy, these models provide our dentists with a realistic representation of the patient’s unique oral condition. This allows us to thoroughly analyze and strategize complex surgical procedures (specifically dental implant placements) with greater confidence and precision. With the ability to simulate the exact surgical scenario, dentists can anticipate potential challenges, evaluate different treatment options, and optimize their surgical techniques, leading to improved outcomes and reduced surgical complications.

New & Replacement Dentures

Another area 3D printing is enhancing is removable dentures. We now have the ability to fabricate dentures in-house. Traditionally, dentures were crafted using labor-intensive and time-consuming methods, often resulting in ill-fitting and uncomfortable appliances. However, 3D printing has made the process of denture production more streamlined. What typically takes about six appointments is now taking only two. This technology is great for both new dentures and replacement dentures as we can take a scan of your arch or your existing denture to create your new restoration. By utilizing digital scans of a patient’s mouth, we can design and shade dentures that are precisely tailored for each patient. This customization ensures a comfortable and secure fit, enhancing the patient’s overall comfort and chewing efficiency.

Nightguards & Occlusal Appliances

Similarly to dentures, the use of 3D-printing technology has brought significant advancements to the fabrication of nightguards and occlusal appliances. Nightguards are dental devices designed to protect teeth from grinding and clenching during sleep, while occlusal appliances are used to correct misaligned bites or provide relief for temporomandibular joint disorders. With 3D printing, these appliances can be created with unmatched precision and customization. 3D printing also streamlines the manufacturing process, reducing turnaround time and enabling us to provide patients with their custom-fitted nightguards and occlusal appliances in a more timely manner.


What types of materials are used in 3D printing?

There are a variety of materials used in 3D printing. For us, there are gels specific to what we’re printing. For example, dentures would use their own denture gel. Similarly, surgical models and occlusal appliances would have their own gel as well. The gels are tailored to specific shades, accuracy, etc.

What are the benefits of 3D printing?

The benefits of 3D printing apply to both the doctor and the patient, and convenience and time are the two biggest things. 3D-printed restorations are also far more accurate than milled restorations!

What’s on the horizon for 3D printing?

The possibilities of 3D printing are truly unlimited. In the near future, we’re hoping to start fabricating veneers and dental crowns in-house as well. As an example, we would have the ability to create 6 veneers in about 15 minutes. Same-day dentistry will completely change!

3D Printing at CarolinasDentist in Wilmington–The Pointe

We are committed to staying at the forefront of technological advances and continuing to improve our patients’ experience and oral wellness. Call to schedule your appointment today and we look forward to seeing you in our office very soon!

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Gabrielle Smallwood

Senior Regional Director

Gabrielle, a seasoned professional, began her journey with CarolinasDentist in 2015 as the Practice Manager for the Fayetteville location. Swiftly showcasing her passion for growth and effective leadership, she transformed her Fayetteville team into the largest and most profitable practice in the CarolinasDentist network, earning her a spot on the CarolinasDentist Leadership Team in 2018.

Her impact extended behind the scenes, where Gabrielle played a pivotal role in facilitating CarolinasDentist's partnership with Lightwave. Recognizing her contributions, she was promoted in 2020 to Regional Director of Operations for Lightwave and Integrator for CarolinasDentist. A firm believer in the EOS Operating Platform, Gabrielle exemplifies her commitment to streamlined operations which helped her earn her promotion to Senior Regional Director of Operations.

Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Gabrielle is a proud graduate of Slippery Rock University, holding a degree in Health Services Administration. She brings a wealth of leadership experience from multi-location medical and dental practices. Her dedication to continuous improvement is evident in her enthusiasm for professional development and executive coaching.

Now based in Raleigh, NC, with her husband Nathan, Gabrielle shares her home with her two furry companions, Teddy and Peach, who are likely familiar faces on her Teams calls. Outside work, she loves getting lost in books and finds joy in diving into DIY projects, effortlessly merging her love for stories with hands-on creativity. With a book in one hand and a toolbox in the other, she brings literature and craftsmanship together in her own unique way.


Lourdes Sisk

Marketing Director

Lourdes's journey in the professional landscape has been a rich tapestry woven through multiple industries. With over 20 years of experience, she has honed her skills across different sectors, gaining invaluable insights that enrich her strategic approach to marketing. At the core of Lourdes's leadership style is her ability to blend creativity with analytical prowess. This versatility allows her to approach challenges with a holistic perspective, ensuring that every aspect of the business is considered in the pursuit of strategic goals. Customer satisfaction lies at the heart of Lourdes's philosophy. Her customer-centric approach permeates every aspect of the marketing strategies she crafts, ensuring that our efforts resonate with our audience and create lasting connections. Lourdes embodies an entrepreneurial spirit that fuels innovation and drives growth.

Beyond the boardroom, Lourdes is a music enthusiast who finds inspiration in the rhythm and melodies that surround her. Her love for music reflects her creative spirit and adds a unique dimension to her leadership style. Lourdes cherishes her role as a loving spouse and a pet parent to three fur babies. Her commitment to family values extends beyond the workplace, fostering a culture of care and compassion among the team.

Lourdes is far more than our Director of Marketing; she is a multifaceted leader whose journey, skills, and passions converge to create a unique and powerful force within our organization. Her customer-centric approach, entrepreneurial spirit, and love for both her work and personal life make her an inspiring leader, shaping the future of marketing at CarolinasDentist.


Lauren Collins

Hygiene Director

In 2018, Lauren Collins, originally from sunny Santa Rosa, California, happily joined the CarolinasDentist team in Raeford after graduating with a dental hygiene degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College. Lauren's positive energy and dedication to oral health quickly propelled her into the role of Hygiene Lead for the Raeford office in 2019.

Riding on the wave of her infectious enthusiasm, Lauren went on to apply for and secure the position of Hygiene Director in 2021. In this role, she supports and mentors all hygienists across CarolinasDentist, creating a workplace filled with positivity and professional growth.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Lauren’s life is enriched by her love for animals. Currently sharing her home with two dogs and three cats, she exemplifies her caring nature not only in her career but also in her personal life. An outdoor enthusiast, she finds joy in kayaking and soaking up the beauty of nature. Lauren's lively personality shines in her social life, where laughter and shared references from The Office are always on the agenda.

Engaged to be married, Lauren cherishes the moments spent with her fiancé, laying the foundation for a future brimming with love and shared adventures. Lauren Collins symbolizes a fulfilling professional journey where her love for healthcare effortlessly merges with her love of caring for people. Her appreciation for life's simple and delightful moments adds a layer of joy to her overall career experience.


Sam Cernosek

Revenue Cycle Manager

Samantha Cernosek, a native Texan and proud alumna of Texas Tech University, moved to North Carolina in 2015. Her professional journey with CarolinasDentist began in May of 2016 and quickly led to a passion for the intricacies of dental insurance.

Her expertise lies in navigating the complexities of the dental revenue cycle, ensuring optimal financial performance for the practices. With an acute understanding of industry nuances, Samantha has implemented strategic financial solutions, enhancing revenue streams and contributing significantly to the practices’ growth and stability.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Samantha enjoys a variety of fitness activities, particularly cycling and self-defense with a focus on Krav Maga. In addition, she is an animal enthusiast, caring for three dogs of her own and actively contributing her time to volunteer at local rescues.

Paulina Franco

Area Manager

In 2017, Paulina Franco Gil earned her degree as Chemical Engineer from the University of Antioquia. The Colombian native who found her heart divided between the vibrant valley of Medellin, Colombia, and the rolling landscapes of North Carolina moved to the US in 2018, where she not only found a new home but also the love of her life. Paulina embarked on a journey of resilience and adaptability being a proud military wife.

Joining CarolinasDentist in 2021 as a Treatment Coordinator in the Raeford location, Paulina swiftly climbed the professional ladder. Within a year, she transitioned from Treatment Coordinator to Assistant Practice Manager and was promoted to Practice Manager. Another year unfolded, and the opportunity to serve as the Area Manager for the Sandhills region knocked on her door.

Paulina’s passion extends beyond the office walls. She thrives on helping others grow and achieve their goals. When she is not immersed in the world of dental management, she is fostering an active lifestyle. Paulina enjoys going to the gym and loves outdoor activities, whether it's soaking up the sun at the beach, conquering mountain trails on a bike, or skiing down snow-covered slopes during winter.

While Paulina’s heart is firmly rooted in Colombian traditions, her spirit embraces a global perspective. Traveling is her way of expanding horizons, and sampling international cuisine. Paulina lives by the philosophy that energy is neither created nor destroyed; it simply changes form. That means you!

Bonnie Heath

Bonnie Heath

Regional Director of Operations

Born in Missouri and raised near Baltimore, Maryland, Bonnie embarked on a journey that led to a fulfilling career in the dental field. Achieving an associate's degree from Carroll Community College laid the foundation for Bonnie's professional pursuits.

Initially entering the veterinary field, Bonnie transitioned to dentistry, drawn by a keen interest in dental hygiene and inspired by her mother, a seasoned dental assistant of over 25 years. However, upon entering the dental field, Bonnie discovered that her true passion lay not in the intricacies of a patient's mouth but in the gratification of helping patients and the joy of training and mentoring others.

In 2019, Bonnie joined CarolinasDentist, taking on the role of managing the Porters Neck location. As time progressed, Bonnie expanded her responsibilities to support the Wilmington and Triangle regions, showcasing leadership and dedication to the dental community.

Beyond the professional realm, she finds joy and balance in her personal life. She and her husband, Chase, have two dogs, who are more like children. Bonnie unwinds by playing beach volleyball, indulging in reading, and immersing herself in the world of music.