A useful tool especially in a pandemic
Dr. Rosalind Ho BDS S’pore MFGDP (UK)
From traditional impressions to digital impressions of teeth, the clinic has decided to step up further with digital technology.
Digital impressions are also known as 3D intraoral scanning and it is the latest technology in capturing a replica of the mouth.
A traditional impression involves the use of alginate material for denture purposes or rubber base material for precision work like crowns and bridges and implants.
This could take up to 20 minutes from preparation to impression, and once the impressions are setting in the mouth, it may seem like a long time. Some patients feel gagged or choked.
The impressions are then cast into models to be picked up and despatched to the laboratory for fabrication of the prostheses.
Sometimes, the impressions may not be ideal due to poor registration or the cast models have defects and the whole process needs to be repeated.
As a result, the patient would be recalled to attend the clinic again.
Enter the digital scanner
Digital scanning speeds up and simplifies the process. With an intraoral scanner, it can take a 3D impression of your teeth and gums. The 3D image is generated on the screen which the patient can view and be enlightened.
The digital data is then despatched to the laboratory with a click of the mouse. The technician could then create a digital print of the models using a 3D milling machine and subsequently fabricate the restoration.
The benefits of infra-oral scanners include:
- Saving time
- Comfortable patient experience
- High accuracy of 3D dental models — resulting in good fit
- Less physical contact of materials from impression to despatch to lab handling due to direct sending of data is especially pertinent in a pandemic era.
- Easy storage of a patient’s case. Physical models often deteriorate with time.
- Diagnostic use and Oral health monitoring including the rate of tooth wear and tear.
The disadvantage of the digital scanners is the initial costs associated with digital equipment including the computer hardware and software and the scanning device and subsequent regular maintenance fees.
Regardless, one has to march along with technology to reap its benefits. From associating a dental experience with pain and discomfort, we hope to offer a positive experience — one of speed, comfort, and efficacy.
*For smaller mouths, the traditional impression method may still need to be used if the scanner tip does not fit to the back of the mouth.