Skip to content

Whip Mix Blog

Homer Simpson’s Guide to Dental Mills

If you Google “dental mill” you get about 15,000,000 results in 0.56 seconds. There have been multiple articles and blogs written to help you choose the right mill for your dental lab or office, including several by yours truly. With all the information out there, it can be somewhat confusing and a bit overwhelming; sometimes it’s best if things are made simple. So, in honor of the man that made D’OH! famous, let’s take a look at the basics of dental mills.

Choosing a Mill

Before you consider a mill, you need to ask yourself what types of restorations are you doing and what type of restoration do you want to do? There are 3 types of mills on the market today: 4-axis dry mill, 5-axis dry mill or wet mill. A 4-axis mill is great for the dental lab if you are only going to do zirconia and 85% of your restorations are full contour crowns or small (3 unit) bridges. If you are sticking with zirconia but want to do some custom abutments, which require you to do some undercuts, then you will need a 5-axis dry mill.

If you want to get into the glass ceramics (lithium disilicate, and also when milling feldspathic porcelains and composite resins) you would need a wet grinding machine.

Now if you really want to get into it and mill titanium this is a metal that requires wet milling. Cobalt chromium is generally milled in a wet mill but in certain instances may be milled dry.

CAM Software

Second, take a look at the CAM software that will either come with the mill or be packaged with it. My recommendation here is to have your reseller do an on-line demonstration of the software so you can get an idea of how easy it is to use. Don’t forget to look to the future if you want to grow your CAD/CAM operations. Always ask the question of how many mills can I add to the CAM software.


Third, you are going to need a vacuum and a compressor. You can get combo unit that offers both, or just the vacuum. So you can vacuum overnight it is not recommended that you use your lab vacuum, but have a dedicated vacuum for your mill.


Finally, you will need a sintering oven if you will be milling zirconia. Sintering is a very integral part of the restoration. When it is time, find someone with a lot of knowledge and really pick their brain.

What it all comes down to is knowing what you are looking to accomplish. The mill and software will do all the work for you. Of course the design is pretty important as well. Even though Homer said to try is to fail, that really isn’t the case when it comes to milling. It’s really pretty basic when you actually get in to it.

Photo credit: 

Chris Frye

Chris has been a product specialist for over 18 years. In 2012, he became involved in the 3D printing industry, helping clients understand the complexities of printing and how it can help their companies. He is knowledgeable in all forms of 3D printing, having been associated with Stratasys, 3D Systems and Asiga. Chris can be reached at or 513-680-1512.

Leave a Comment