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    How to use an intraoral digital impression scanner for restorative dentistry

    Digital impressions and innovative new materials provide improved physical and optical properties.

    Technology continues to impact the way we work, the way we learn and how we live, touching almost every aspect of our lives. It has also accelerated a product’s development from concept to market, and finally adoption.

    Consumers now expect advancements in smartphones, entertainment and other devices most every year.  Technology has also had a major impact across the entire health care industry, including dentistry. In the past six years alone, we have seen some game-changing technological advancements transform our field.    

    Technology has significantly changed our daily workflow from diagnosis to treatment, using highly advanced digital impression devices and innovative new materials. As dentists, it is important to stay informed on technology trends and invest in your practice’s future. By integrating technology into my practice, I have experienced its many profound advantages firsthand. These new technologies have helped our industry make dental procedures faster, easier and better than before, and have provided consistent, high-quality outcomes for patients.  

    Next-generation equipment

    To stay ahead of the curve, my practice began integrating an intraoral digital impression scanner (3M™ True Definition Scanner) into our workflows more than five years ago, and we are now 100-percent digital for all crown and bridge procedures. The device offers unparalleled accuracy, ease of use and affordability for making fast, precise digital dental impressions. I can quickly obtain digital impressions for a specific tooth, quadrant or full arch, and obtain a bite check in a fraction of the time taken for a traditional impression. In my practice, we utilize digital impression technology for everyday dentistry, implants and cosmetic procedures.

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    If you have any issues with a traditional impression, you must retake the impression. With digital scanning, it’s easy to go over an area you might have missed. You can look at the prep on a large screen, which makes it possible to see things you would not have noticed with a traditional impression. You can review the scan before sending it to your lab and make sure margins, the bite and other parameters are as they should be. Since it’s digital, your lab can quickly confirm that everything looks good—sometimes even before the patient leaves the chair.

    The open-architecture, digital files can be shared with a variety of different types of software at the lab and different kinds of milling/printing centers, opening up options for your practice, the lab and the patient. It allows a seamless transition on the digital front to easily move from the scan to software design to milling, and your lab can move forward with design and fabrication of the restoration prescribed much faster than with analog. Since we began using a digital scanner, we have seen how digital scan files can improve dentist/lab communication and contribute to an overall increase in efficiency and accuracy. It enables us to communicate more directly and promptly with the lab about a case, and eliminates the common back and forth that can happen with traditional impressions that leads to miscommunication and remakes. It also offers easier patient communication, especially on the mobile tablet version (3M™ Mobile True Definition Scanner), which is so much like technology that patients are already used to interacting with on a daily basis.   

    Our patients quickly experience the benefits of the digital scanner and realize that with this new, timesaving technology, traditional impressions are no longer necessary. In my experience, many patients dislike having impressions taken, mainly because they don’t like the feel of the material in their mouth. Digital scanning eliminates this issue and speeds up the process, making it a better experience. The growth of my practice has benefited from positive word-of-mouth as patients share their experience with family, friends and associates.   

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