Study models provide vital information about your patient’s teeth and occlusion. They are an essential diagnostic aid when planning cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery, and orthodontics. The information given by a study model includes accurate replication of the teeth and the surrounding soft tissues. By providing a 3-D model that will allow you to clearly visualize your patient’s dentition and occlusion, a properly-made study model is invaluable in planning treatment. Once the model is completed, you will be able to easily detect any abnormalities within the arch while objectively assessing the problems that require correction.
In orthodontics, the model serves as a permanent record of a patient’s malocclusion and provides a visual aid, helping you to monitor the changes that will take place during treatment. Additionally, it can be useful for motivating a patient and them to accept any proposed treatment plan. A good study model can be very useful for patient education, allowing them to visualize the treatment process. Once treatment is completed, dentists will often make study models showing the completed work. This can be especially useful for helping to monitor the results of your patient’s treatment during follow-up visits.
Making Quality Study Models
Once a high-quality impression and bite registration are taken, it can be cast and based in dental plaster. The upper model is trimmed first to the correct occlusal plane, before the lower model is trimmed to fit, allowing the two models to occlude and ensuring both are parallel to one another. The models are hand-finished to create a smooth, accurate, and durable set of study models. Once finished, your study models will be symmetrical, pleasing to the eye, and will remain in occlusion when placed on the distal corners, heels, and sides of the models. Finally, your study models will be clearly labeled with your patient’s name, age, and the date.
Digitally Making and Storing Study Models
Despite using top-quality dental plaster, study models are still relatively fragile, often because state requirements mean they must be stored for at least seven years. The space needed to safely store these models can be considerable. In a busy practice, it might be difficult to locate a study model when you need it. It can become even more complicated if you work in multiple locations. This is where digital models can be extremely useful, as digital files can be securely stored, freeing up valuable space in your practice.
Nowadays it’s possible to digitally scan models or to digitally scan a patient’s mouth, creating a file that you can instantly access whenever you need it, regardless of your location. The file or model is scanned to create a digital model made to your exact specifications. You will simply be able to download the file of that model shortly afterward. If you decide you would like a physical model, this can be printed for you using durable and long-lasting materials rather than conventional dental plaster.
More clinicians are embracing digital technology, especially because it can often provide a better experience for patients while eliminating many common and easily-made errors when taking conventional tray impressions. Another advantage is that digital impressions eliminate the need for a wax or silicone bite, reducing the possibility of an inadequate interocclusal relationship. Even if you don’t yet take digital impressions, you can still take advantage of having your study models digitally stored or reproduced using 3D printing technology.
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