What Can Intraoral Scanners Do?

By David Claridge, CAD/CAM Product Specialist

Long, long ago (during the Gypsum Age), arriving on the silicone and polyether shores of merry England, was the first intraoral impression scanner. It was wheeled ashore behind a dozen horses and handed to a caveman called Claridge. He was the Product Specialist for a unit that shall not be named (unless to say it was tethered to a cumbersome trolley. Claridge drove up and down the country in a special car with ramp access to his little Trojan Horse strapped in the back, and preached to any who would listen about the benefits of digital impressioning.

But the good dentists of the land asked lots of “can it do [fill in the blank]?” questions. These questions are still asked today, but there is a palpable shift that marks the development and adoption of intraoral scanners. So while Claridge was going around gathering ‘can it do’ questions, little hobbits at Carestream Dental were listening to this voice of customer feedback and taking notice. The answers to these questions fell into three categories… “Yes,” “No,” and “Not today.” You see, change happens, and has happened. In those early days, the great majority of replies were either “No” or “Not yet.”

Today, the vast majority of the ‘can it do’ questions I now receive are answered with a resounding “Yes it can!” Can it scan without powder? Can I send my scan anywhere i.e. is it truly open? Is it in HD colour? Can I store digital study models and re-import if I need them? Can I move it from room to room, over several floors? Can it scan implant scan bodies? Can I mark the margins? Can I use it for partial dentures, splints, retainers, aligners, crowns, bridges? Yes! YES!! YES!!! Continue reading

The Future of Digital Dentistry is Open, Faster and Smaller

By Jan Einfeldt
Clinical Director of Staplehurst Dental Practice

What’s important to patients is also important to dentists and vice versa. We all benefit from efficient processes that enhance comfort, accuracy and minimise stress.

From the patient’s perspective, dental impressions haven’t traditionally offered the most pleasant experience. The availability of digital intraoral scanners has changed this drastically, providing a much more comfortable alternative[i]. For dentists, intraoral scanners offer many benefits in addition to encouraging patient satisfaction. They also have the potential to enhance the professional workflow, simplifying the impression-taking process and making everything from capture to storage of impressions easier. Plus, you can’t lose digital impressions like you can in the post or in filing cabinets.

The simple fact is that not all of us are great at taking impressions. Slight movement or a momentarily lapse in concentration can cause a less-than-perfect impression. The intraoral scanner increases the accuracy of the impression significantly[ii] and studies have found that trueness and precision[iii] can vary from scanner to scanner. As quality of the impression now depends on correct use of the scanner rather than experience with materials, we could soon see other members of the team taking impressions, instead of the dentist. Continue reading

Using a Digital Workflow to Plan an Implant Case from Start to Finish

Delivering predictable restorative outcomes is essential in implant cases. Through advancements in 3D and CAD/CAM technology, oral surgeons are better able to use a complete digital workflow to plan a case, fabricate a custom abutment, and fabricate and insert the crown.

In the Implant Practice article below, I describe how I treated a patient who presented with a congenitally missing left mandibular second premolar as well as the efficiencies experienced through the use of an integrated digital workflow.

Overall, when compared with conventional dentistry, a digital workflow allows us to complete a case—such as this one—in fewer steps and with enhanced patient comfort and satisfaction in mind.

Millennials, Minor League Baseball and Mouth Guards

IMG_6789As the oral surgeon for the Rockland Boulders, a minor Canadian/American league baseball team based in Pomona, NY, I am dedicated to ensuring the players’ oral health. As part of this responsibility, I recently visited the team’s stadium to capture digital impressions in order to fabricate mouth guards.

Dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury sustained while playing sports, which makes properly designed mouth guards a necessity for injury prevention. In fact, one study estimates that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone. Using a highly accurate digital impression to produce a custom mouth guard promotes stability, proper fit and ease of breathing—and can ultimately help prevent concussions and dentofacial injuries.

To capture digital impressions for the team, I used an intraoral scanner that can be plugged via USB into the laptop—making it easy to pack in my car and bring to the stadium. When I arrived, the team members were ready to be scanned.

As true millenials, the players were impressed by the digital technology and liked seeing the images show up instantly on the screen; in fact, some of them called their teammates into the room to check it out. Continue reading

Digital Impressions And Increased Patient Satisfaction: The Two Go Hand In Hand

In modern society, we expect immediacy in nearly everything we do.

Take information access. We expect immediate results when we search a topic on the internet. And, thanks to Google, fiber optics and super-fast connections, our search results show up in a second or two.

In the same way that modern technology has brought us information that’s immediate available, it has also provided instant communication. Considering the very first mobile phone only went on sale to the public a little over 30 years ago (DynaTAC in the US cost almost $4,000 each at the time!), it is astounding to think how far we have come in such a short amount of time.

Dentistry, however, did not embrace “digital” at the same pace, but it has caught up. Technology has advanced, traditional processes and techniques have been refined, protocols streamlined and high quality achieved. Today’s digital workflow enhances communication among the dental team, allowing the transfer of more information faster and more efficiently for the benefit of the dentist and patient—and the lab.

In the days before CAD/CAM, communication between the dentist and lab technician was a lengthy process. Now, however, color matching, patient preferences, margin verifications and prep height reduction can be determined before the patient leaves the chair. Continue reading

Scanning Shiny Surfaces

If you’re using an intraoral scanner to take digital impressions, then you already know their many benefits. However, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve when using new technology. Often when scanning shiny surfaces, such as a metal restoration, bracket or abutment, you may notice an overly bright area (or “hotspot”) on your scan. Not to worry, in this video I share a few easy tips for scanning reflective surfaces and getting the perfect scan to complete your digital impression.

Continue reading

Using an Intraoral Scanner to Fabricate Custom Abutments

Intraoral scanning is another way digital workflows are used in dentistry. To create custom abutments with a digital scanner, attach a scan body (compatible with your implant system) and scan like you would a prepped tooth. The digital impression is sent to the lab and the lab software orients the implant fixture according to the scan body position. The lab then designs the final abutment, mills it and can either send a model of the final abutment to fabricate a restoration or mill both crown and abutment digitally. The benefits of the digital workflow are less mess, less time and streamlined restorations. As you wade into digital workflows makes sure you have parts and pieces that are compatible with your implant system.

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Taking Digital Impressions in an OMS Practice—Less Time, Happier Patients

As an oral surgeon, I do many procedures that require impressions—fabricating surgical guides, creating appliances to correct sleep apnea, etc. I’ve seen great results when using a digital scanner to take impressions in place of conventional impression materials. Not only is the process faster and more efficient, but I’ve noticed that my patients also prefer digital impressions to the potentially gag-inducing polyvinyl or alginate.

Let’s compare the conventional way of taking impressions—the way we were all taught in school—to the new way of capturing digital impressions:

Steps in Process Traditional Impressions Digital Impresions
Step 1 Choose correct impression material (alginate or polyvinyl) Turn on scanner
Step 2 Lay out tools (mixing pads, spatulas, adhesive, various sizes of trays, etc.) Select one of two scanner tips, small or large
Step 3 Select correct maxillary and madibular trays Scan area of interst
Step 4 Prepare trays and start mixing materials Upload STL files to lab
Step 5 Take impression (possibly struggling with a patient with a strong gag reflex)
Step 6 Pour up stone model
Step 7 Wait for model to dry
Step 8 Separate model
Step 9 Trim model
Step 10 Package and ship model to lab (and hope it doesn’t break)

Continue reading

Investing in Digital Impression Technology for Your Orthodontic Practice

You’ve probably heard that computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is rapidly advancing in the field of orthodontics. The most valuable CAD/CAM tool that an orthodontist could introduce to their practice is an intraoral scanner: but is it worth it? There is no doubt numerous benefits to both the doctor and patient, but let’s talk hard numbers and the all-important return on investment of such a purchase. Continue reading

A Brief History of CAD/CAM

Though computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) for dentistry has been available for the past 25-30 years, it’s only been within the past decade that the technology has moved from the lab to chairside. Much like radiovisiography technology, dental CAD/CAM technology got its start in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. However, early versions of CAD/CAM systems were so cumbersome and complicated that they were considered more of a hindrance to practice workflow than an advantage, and were mostly confined to laboratories. Fortunately, advances in the technology over the past few years have made CAD/CAM a more viable option for dentists looking to do restorations in-house. Continue reading