The Future Has Arrived Digital impressions represent cutting-edge technology that allows dentists to create a virtual, computer-generated replica of the hard and soft tissues in the mouth using lasers and other optical scanning devices. The digital technology captures clear and highly accurate impression data in mere minutes, without the need for traditional impression materials that some patients find inconvenient and messy. Many patients find digital impressions an easier and more comfortable procedure because traditional impression materials are avoided. The impression information then is transferred to a computer and used to create restorations, often without the need for stone models.
Benefits of Digital Impressions
Digital optical impressions significantly increase efficiency, productivity, and accuracy, and make it possible for dentists to e-mail the virtual impression to the laboratory, rather than send a traditional impression or stone model via regular mail. Also, digital impressions can be used to make same-day dentistry restorations, thereby speeding up patient treatment and reducing the need for multiple office visits. Other benefits of digital impressions include:
- Improved image/impression quality for better-fitting restorations
- Less chair time
- No need for distasteful impression materials that cause some patients to gag
- More comfortable, less anxious experience for patients and the dental team
- Reduced possibility of impression-taking errors and elimination of material inaccuracies for fewer restoration mistakes
- Patients tend to appreciate the new technology and state-of-the-art dental care, so they become more engaged in, and better informed about, the treatment process because they can see their impressions on-screen chairside.
- The scan of the teeth being restored, as well as the opposing teeth and bite, can be completed in just three to five minutes.
- The digital impression can be stored electronically indefinitely, which saves space, contributes to efficient recordkeeping, and supports a paper-free environment.
- Green dentistry and eco-friendly aspects include eliminating the need for disposable plastic trays and impression materials, which otherwise would be polluting landfill space; digital data is eliminated with the “delete” button.
Digital Impressions vs. Traditional Impressions Traditional impression-taking potentially involves multiple materials and occasionally more steps. Because this is a highly delicate and skilled process, it is easier to introduce error throughout any of the numerous steps involved, either from the human element, or material defects such as voids, air bubbles, or improper setting or distortions. Digital impression devices eliminate much of the labor and guesswork associated with traditional impressions, and greatly reduce or eliminate errors. Simultaneously they increase time savings, both during the impression appointment and delivery of the restorations. Digital impression devices, in most cases, eliminate the need for a return visit to the office considering the restoration can be made in the dentist’s office rather than be shipped to a laboratory. If they are not made within the dental office, in most instances the restoration can be fabricated faster due to the elimination of the working time required with traditional materials, such as stone, and shipping times. Digital impressions prevent the need for impression materials to be placed in the mouth for upwards of five minutes during conventional techniques. This allows patients who are fearful of gagging, or claustrophobic, to be more comfortable throughout the procedure. This advanced technology has allowed many patients to get their much needed dental work completed, which they may have avoided preventing the use of conventional impressions. With a physical impression, dentists rely on visual (usually with loupes) evaluations to determine if the impressions are ready to ship to the laboratory. A traditional impression is captured in the negative, making it more difficult to identify mistakes. If mistakes are identified, the dentist will need to take another impression, which means patients must undergo the procedure again, resulting in greater inconvenience and a longer appointment, as well as time lost, and added cost and material use for the dentist. On the other hand, a digital scan enables dentists to see the “positive” image and magnify and evaluate it carefully. Errors can be corrected immediately before submitting the impression to the laboratory. With digital impressions, when the final impression is scanned and the bite registration obtained, a virtually articulated model of the preparation (one showing how the upper and lower teeth come together) is visible on the monitor. The system also will indicate in color if any areas of inadequate tooth reduction are present. This allows dentists to modify the amount of tooth reduction immediately to ensure that proposed restorations will fit comfortably and function properly. If an area is missed in the initial digital scan, some digital impression systems allow the operator to “patch” the scan without retaking the entire impression. With digital impression technology, additional scans can be layered onto the original virtual model for enhanced visual representation. A repeat scan to capture a revised or voided image improves the previous virtual model, without introducing new errors. Only the previously missing data is added to the model. The more scans that are added, the more accurate the virtual model; this is exactly the opposite of a traditional physical impression.
The Digital Impression Procedure: What’s Involved With a digital impression system, the dentist or dental assistant captures an image of a tooth/teeth preparation. The digital impression typically is captured using an intraoral wand that is inserted into the patient’s mouth and moved over the surface area of the tooth or teeth. Most digital impression systems use a chairside monitor to display the impression image as it is captured. It takes approximately a minute and a half to capture a digital impression of prepared teeth. An impression of the teeth in the opposite arch takes just 45 seconds. As the dentist reviews the electronic real-time image, he or she can enlarge and manipulate it for enhanced detail to ensure that any possible mistakes are identified and corrected onscreen before sending the digital impression electronically to the dental laboratory or in-office dental CAD/CAM system. The delivery workflow will vary depending on the digital impression system the dental practice works with. Current digital impression systems available for the dental office are digital impressions only or digital chairside CAD/CAM systems. Dr. Boyajian offers the latest in dental digital technology to ensure you receive the most beneficial treatment with more accuracy and in less time. We invite you to call today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Boyajian, one of Beverly Hills’ premier cosmetic, general and holistic dentists. It would be our pleasure to serve you.