How intraoral scanning can open up the dental workflow

June 29, 2015

It’s clear by now that intraoral scanning is here to stay. Digital impressions are changing the relationship between the lab and the dentist, and it can be a confusing transition.

It’s clear by now that intraoral scanning is here to stay. Digital impressions are changing the relationship between the lab and the dentist, and it can be a confusing transition.

To help explain how intraoral scanning is shifting the dental lab world-and can actually help the labs that are prepared to work in a digital mindset-we spoke with Joe Andrasko, the regional product manager for Carestream Dental’s CAD/CAM restoration solutions portfolio (CS Solutions) and dental imaging software.

Must-read: How to understand and handle today's digital workflow

He explained what labs need to know about digital impression technology, how the digital workflow is shifting traditional mindsets and how Carestream Dental is helping to guide labs through that shift.

Intraoral scanning has been a huge topic of interest in the last few years. How have you seen this technology change the dental industry?

Intraoral scanners have changed the dental industry in several ways. Most importantly, you’ll find that using a scanner to make digital impressions results in higher accuracy. Plus, because scans are available to view almost instantly, you can catch errors right away. What used to be an awkward phone call to a patient to have them come in to take another impression can now be fixed with a second sweep of the scanner.

The process of acquiring digital impressions is also much faster than traditional impressions; in fact, you almost cut your steps in half. In the case of the CS 3500 intraoral scanner, you connect the scanner via the USB port and begin scanning. With practice, two arches can be scanned in minutes, and the images are available on your computer instantly. Now, think about a traditional impression-first, there’s the prep work to get your materials together; then, making the actual impression; followed by pouring them up, waiting for them to dry, separating and trimming them. After all that, you still need to factor in shipping costs and lab turnaround.

How have those changes shifted the lab portion of the workflow?

A digital scanner can help build stronger relationships between labs and practices. For one thing, turnaround is much faster, which is great for the lab and the doctor because everyone’s happier when cases are completed in a timely manner. Digital files can be shared with the lab through email or a hosted web-based platform, and doctors can track their cases online so there’s no waiting and wondering about the status of the case or constant calls to the lab from an inpatient doctor.

Also, the high accuracy of digital scans means fewer remakes for labs, which helps cut back on a waste of materials and the hassle of shipping a second time or dealing with courier services.

Related reading: The latest digital imaging solutions from Carestream Dental

How does Carestream Dental’s CS 3500 stand out among the myriad options of impression scanners?

The CS 3500 can create digital impressions in true color in 2D and 3D. It doesn’t require an external heater and features a unique light guidance system that aids in the capture of the data during the image acquisition process. There are also no annual fees or license fees to the dentist or dental lab.

Most important, the scanner is part of an open system. That means that it can be used with equipment the doctor already owns-no trolley or proprietary laptop is necessary. The scanner integrates directly with the Carestream Dental imaging platform, which in turn means it integrates with all of the major practice management software systems.

Next page: How the CS 3500 changes the workflow for labs ...

How have you seen the CS 3500 specifically change and improve workflows?

The scanner cuts down the steps it takes to make an impression by nearly half so it has certainly streamlined the workflow. Also, the CS 3500 is the only intraoral scanner available that integrates directly into a dental practice’s existing hardware and software. Since it’s not tied to a trolley or proprietary laptop, the office has the flexibility to use its own equipment and simply move the scanner from one operatory to the next.

Also, the CS 3500 works off of Carestream Dental’s digital imaging platform, which integrates with much of the DPMS market. The office doesn’t have to create a second patient record in proprietary software, and the scan data is stored on the office’s server with all other patient data.

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This integration extends to the lab with our software, which allows the doctor to send cases directly to, and communicate with, their lab of choice without the hassle of click fees or delays caused by remote data processing.

Joe Andrasko shows off the CS 3500

What have you heard from dentists (and, by extension, patients) about working on cases with the CS 3500?

Over and over, I hear how much practitioners appreciate that the scanner isn’t tied to a trolley. It’s really the only truly portable scanner on the market. The scanner is lightweight and can easily be taken from operatory to operatory because it uses USB technology.

Also, the scanner comes with two tips, one for adults and one for children or adults with small mouths. Staff and doctors comment on how the scanner is much easier to use on a nervous patient with a strong gag reflex rather than traditional impression materials and trays. Plus, the smaller tip is great for young patients, and because the scanner now has an orthodontic workflow, that’s very important.

Other doctors have been able to cut back on their marketing for their practices because the scanner is such a showpiece. Patients really appreciate not having their mouths filled with alginate or powder, and word travels fast when you’re the dentist who does “goo-free” impressions.

There’s also a certain “cool” factor to the scanner. I’ve had an orthodontist tell me that children and their parents alike like to watch the impression begin to appear on the computer screen as the scanner is being used.

What have you heard from labs working on cases where they’re receiving files from the CS 3500?

Digital impressions can reach the lab so quickly-as fast as receiving an email and downloading the file-that I’ve heard of some labs that offer to check the accuracy of an impression while the patient is still in the chair. It’s just another example of how a scanner helps to improve relationships between labs and practices.

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What other workflow options are available to labs with the CS 3500?

When the scanner was first launched, it was meant to be used for restorations. However, we’ve since added an orthodontic and implant workflow. We’re really excited to see how these additional workflows will open up new opportunities for labs to build relationships with specialty practices. Plus, because the scanner produces an open-format STL file, scans can be used in a variety of workflows with third-party software that supports STL imports.

Next page: How can you prepare to get digital files from your dentist who uses the CS 3500?

How does Carestream Dental make sure labs are prepared to receive digital files from their dental clients?

When a customer purchases the CS 3500, we reach out to their labs directly to ensure they can receive and use digital files. Our technical solutions center sends test cases and can help with technical questions about importing digital files into lab software. Carestream Dental also works with industry partners that can help labs increase their business by making the transition to accepting digital cases

Industry news: A new partner with Carestream makes dentists' workflow easier

Additionally, any lab that uses open system CAD software can accept scans from the CS 3500. Also, our software easily allows doctors to upload files directly to the lab. The lab can keep track of the cases within our software, and doctors can track the progress of the case online.

How can labs who are ready for a digital workflow help dentists take the digital leap?

The entire industry is making a transition to digital workflows, labs and doctors alike. Doctors are looking to the digital impression experts-their labs-to help guide them to a solution that works. Labs should continue to be the experts and learn about the technologies that are out there. Once the labs are comfortable and familiar with the technology, their doctors will adopt it, too. The labs can help the doctor find a system that fits well with their office and provides the most flexibility at the best price.

Anything else we need to know?

Carestream Dental has a long history of helping oral health care professionals transition to digital technology (first with RVG sensors, then pans, cephs and CBCT technology). Moving from traditional to digital impressions is the natural next step. We’re excited to be a partner to doctors and labs by providing technical and workflow solutions that speak to today’s needs, as well as any new applications coming in the future.

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Dental Lab Products. For more great articles, click here: http://bit.ly/18S8j4i