Closer Look: iTero Element 5D Scanners Provide More Than Just 3D Digital Impressions

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Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report August 2021, Volume 55, Issue 8

iTero Element 5D is the first intraoral scanner with near-infrared imaging technology to aid in the detection and monitoring of interproximal caries.

For Rick Mars, DDS, 1 key advantage of Align Technology is that its platform is constantly improving. He has used iTero scanners since they first came out on the market, so it’s no surprise that he also invested in the iTero Element 5D imaging system, featuring the latest scanner software technology.

“Every time Align Technology comes out with a new scanner, it has better features, whether it’s the touchscreen, better graphics, or improved speed. The versatility of it is amazing,” Dr Mars says.

In addition to offering all the features included with the iTero Element 2, the iTero Element 5D is the first intraoral scanner with near-infrared imaging (NIRI) technology. This technology is designed to aid in the detection and monitoring of interproximal caries by scanning the internal structure of a tooth in real time without using harmful radiation.

“The NIRI technology allows you to have a similar view of the tooth as if you’re taking a radiographic scan,” says Dr Mars, who is president of Dental Care Group in Florida. “It doesn’t replace radiographs, but it’s another tool to help diagnose cavities. There are amazing diagnostic tools available with the Element 5D.”

The system is equipped with TimeLapse technology, a helpful feature for patient communication. Using TimeLapse, dentists can help patients visualize diagnostic, restorative, or orthodontic comparisons.


“If I scanned you 6 months ago and you’re not exactly ready to jump into clear aligners just yet, I can rescan you and show you the changes to your mouth over those 6 months. It could be gum recession or wear on a tooth. When patients see the changes that took place in a short period of time, it really opens up their eyes and makes them realize they need to take care of the problem,” he says.

Designed for a variety of applications, Dr Mars says the iTero Element 5D really blows away the competition when it comes to Invisalign.

The Invisalign Outcome Simulator is a feature he uses about a dozen times a day with patients in his office. The 3D computer application can be used to create, view, and edit orthodontic treatment plan simulations. After taking a scan of a patient’s mouth, Dr Mars can provide a simulation of what that individual’s teeth and smile will look like once treatment is complete.

“I’ve done more Invisalign in the last 6 months than in any 6-month period,” he says. “It’s allowed me to close more cases due to educating my patients.”

In the days when there was only the option of analog impressions, an assistant could spend 15 to 20 minutes taking an impression, and that was if they were good and lucky enough to get it right on the first try, he notes. Besides being time-consuming, the process was also unpleasant for the patient.

With the latest iTero technology, the time it takes to scan a patient has been cut down to only 2 to 3 minutes. Plus, the patient can see their teeth on a screen right away.

“It’s just putting you out there in your patient’s eyes and mind as being a cutting-edge dentist and someone who really cares about them as a patient. This is dentistry in 2021, not dentistry in the 1990s anymore,” Dr Mars says.

From 3D digital impressions and crisp intraoral scanning to treatment simulation, the technology makes this the best scanner on the market, according to Dr Mars. The system not only helps him educate his patients, it also allows him to inspire them.

“You’re going to do the best dentistry possible because you’re going to be able to see every angle of the tooth,” he says. “If you purchase an iTero scanner, you’ll watch your Invisalign cases skyrocket to a whole new level because you’re now educating and inspiring your patients.”