Doctors are always looking for ways to save—save teeth, save patients time, save money. What about saving the environment? Without even realizing it, dentistry has a huge impact in the Earth: plastic impression trays pile up in landfills, paper charting can use up to 10,000 pieces of paper a year. The overarching solution is to switch to digital solutions, e.g., digital scanning instead of using impression material, digital charting instead of paper files. Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’ll take closer look at one such digital solution that can decrease dentistry’s footprint on the environment—intraoral scanning.
Let’s compare some of the aspects of the traditional impression workflow with using an intraoral scanner and how each affects the environment:
Plastic tray to take impression
|Ends up in landfill; 450 years to break down
||Few consumables, no trays whatsoever
Polyvinyl siloxane (PVS) impression
|Ends up in landfill; never breaks down
||Impression is digital, no physical impression
Courier drives to practice to pick up impression
|More cars on the road; carbon emissions
||Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab
|OR Impression is shipped to lab
Paper, cardboard or styrofoam packaging; fuel used by delivery truck or airplane
|Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab
Manufacturers of intraoral scanners often use the terms “true,” “precise” and “accurate” interchangeably to describe their scanners, but what role do these concepts play in digital impressions and the final restoration or appliance? In fact, according to a recent study, “Accuracy of four intraoral scanners in oral implantology: a comparative in vitro study,”1 published by the scientific journal BMC Oral Health, for an intraoral scanner to be considered accurate it needs both trueness and precision.
Trueness refers to whether a measurement matches the actual quantity being measured, while precision indicates the ability of that measurement to be consistently repeated. Therefore, for a scanner to be called accurate it must deliver consistent results, even when it is used to obtain different measurements of the same object. In this way, an intraoral scanner should detect all impression details and generate a virtual 3D model that is as close to the initial rendering as possible. Continue reading
Implant placement has become the treatment of choice for completely and partially edentulous patients. With more and more implants being placed, keeping up with demand can be difficult. However, with the ability to make your laboratory workflow more digital, time can be saved to create a more cost-effective, high-quality outcome. 1
Implant-based treatment provides infinite possibilities to practitioners, but it often represents a more time- and cost-intensive solution compared to traditional therapy alternatives with conventional tooth-supported fixed dental prostheses. Reducing the overall clinical treatment and technical production time to achieve a reasonable cost-benefit ratio—in combination with a high-quality outcome—can bring benefits to all concerned. Time is saved by eliminating many of the steps, including pick-ups and chemical-based processes. The delivery of restorations is also quicker and there is less chance of having to provide remakes and returns with a digital workflow.1
Many labs have already started transitioning to a digital workflow, as increased demand, technology advances and the growing shortage of technicians creates an enhanced need for improved productivity. Single digital work steps have begun to infiltrate classical impression-taking procedures, dental master cast fabrication, lost-wax casting techniques and individual finalization of the restoration with hand-layered veneering ceramics. For many years, dentists have taken an impression, sent their prescription off to the laboratory and waited for up to two weeks for a finished restoration to be returned. The restoration could then need further adjustments, despite the best efforts of the dentist and technician. The development of a completely digital workflow has the potential to change the entire process. At first glance, the new systems may seem complicated, but ultimately digital solutions can drastically streamline procedures for both the dentist and lab. Nevertheless, although changes are growing in the field of implant prosthetic treatment, the result of this evolution is a mixed conventional-digital workflow. Continue reading
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.
As 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
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
Whether they are used for restorative, orthodontic or implant cases, intraoral scanners are continuing to grow in popularity. And, as their use increases, so does the demand for more intuitive technology.
Keeping in line with the need for a smarter intraoral scanner, Carestream Dental announced the launch of its newest scanner: the CS 3600. Watch the video from the Chicago Midwinter press event below to learn more about the scanner’s unique features, including continuous scanning capabilities, an Intelligent Matching system and high-definition full HD 3D images. Continue reading
If you’re an avid reader of the blog, you’re sure to know the benefits of intraoral scanners and digital impressions. Intraoral scanners are less messy than traditional impressions; require fewer consumables; provide a more comfortable experience for patients; help practices build better relationships with labs; and result in faster turnaround from scan to appliance or restoration. But, in the spirit of being balanced, we’ve decided to focus on how to take traditional impressions for a change… Continue reading
Doctors and labs alike know that fabricating crowns and other appliances from traditional impressions can be challenging. With shipping delays, inaccurate stone model preparation, temperature fluctuations, expansion and shrinkage of materials—the results can lead to remakes, not to mention frustrated labs, doctors and patients. However, digital impressions eliminate these issues, allowing labs to reduce their remakes; manage cases online; and decrease their turnaround times, while facilitating stronger, more amiable relationships with practices.
First, when doctors use an intraoral digital scanner to capture impressions, they eliminate the need for traditional impression materials. Doing away with physical stone models means no more scheduling pick-up and drop-off times with couriers; waiting for shipments to arrive; and no more models broken en route. Instead of shipping stone models, digital images captured by a scanner are either emailed to a lab to be designed and milled, or doctors can design the restoration in-house and send the STL files for milling only. Plus, advanced acquisition software allows doctors to view scans in monochrome to allow them to see what the lab will be viewing in its design software. This creates a better perspective for doctor/lab communication. Continue reading
When it comes to traditional impressions, I look at it from a customer service perspective. Impressions are time-consuming, messy, uncomfortable and don’t do much for improving doctor/patient relationships. However, as an orthodontist, impressions are a necessity for almost every patient who walks through my door.
I wanted way to set my practice apart; eliminate messy alginate impressions; and cut back on wait times for receiving appliances from labs. I’ve done that by pairing an intraoral scanner with a 3D printer right in my office. I’m now able to offer my patients the kind of customer experience they’ve come to expect in this modern, digital world. Continue reading