It is becoming increasingly common for dentists to use digital impressions (computer-generated replicas of tissues within the mouth using optical scanning devices or lasers). With digital technology, it is possible to capture accurate impression data more quickly than it is when using conventional dental impressions. Digital impressions eliminate the need for messy impression materials and provide a more comfortable experience for patients. The information collected with a digital impression can be transferred to a computer that will be used to create the restoration. This technique often avoids the need for a conventional plaster model.
A digital impression can be captured in one of two ways. Doctors can use digital photographs that provide the dental lab with a series of images or opt for a digital video. Many scanning systems are powder free, however some require a patient’s teeth to be dusted with a special titanium dioxide powder before scanning. Typically, the digital impression is displayed on a chair-side monitor as it is captured.
Benefits of Taking Digital Impressions
There are numerous benefits to consider with this advanced technology. When used correctly, digital impressions can increase productivity and efficiency and provide a high degree of accuracy. They are extremely convenient, particularly because the impression can be emailed to the dental laboratory rather than sent, as a conventional impression would be, by courier or by mail. This type of technology is often used for same-day dental restorations, reducing the need for patients to make multiple visits to the dental office.
Additional benefits of taking digital impressions in your dental office include:
Improved impression quality, resulting in precision-fitting restorations
Less chair time should be required as it can take as few as three to five minutes to complete
Digital impressions can be far more pleasant for patients who struggle with conventional impressions, especially for people with strong gag reflexes, anxiety or fears when receiving dental treatment
Eliminating the use of conventional materials can reduce impression-taking errors, resulting in fewer remakes
A digital impression can easily be stored electronically, resulting in less paperwork, more efficient record-keeping and less required physical storage space
Digital dental impressions are an eco-friendly way to take impressions because the process eliminates the need for disposable impression trays and impression materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill
Turnaround times may be faster because the digital file is instantly sent to the dental lab and there is no need to spend time casting up a traditional working model
A digital scan can be magnified and evaluated by the dentist while the patient is still in the chair so if there are any errors, they can be corrected before the file is submitted to the dental lab
The ability to see the impression on-screen in the surgery allows dentists to check tooth preparations more accurately and to modify preps if required
Taking digital dental impressions can increase patient satisfaction, not least because they result in a precision-fitted restoration, with far less remakes and chair-side adjustments needed. With traditional dental impressions, there is significant room for error- impressions can have voids or defects, air bubbles, or distortions. Often, patients will become more involved and interested in the use of this cutting-edge technology and will appreciate learning more about the treatment process because they can view the scan while still in the dental chair.
Transferring the digital impression file to the dental lab is mostly straightforward, but if more detailed advice is needed, please do not hesitate to contact us.