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How scanning can set your practice apart


How the iTero scanner from Align Technology can help keep your practice at the forefront of the industry.

Digital dentistry is not something of the future anymore: it’s the present. Those who haven’t made the switch to a digital practice are already behind. Those who always wait for the next technology will surely continue to practice using older technology that doesn’t advance their practice to stay competitive and offer our patients an experience.

What do you need to do to differentiate yourself from other dentists? To make a good impression to attract and retain your patients? How will you compete with bigger corporations such as dental service organizations coming into your market where they’re all growing rapidly and taking more market share?

One solution is to transform to a digital dental practice with the integration of intraoral scanners. There are a lot of scanners out there, but there’s one that clearly stands out to me: the iTero Element® scanner, invented by Avi Kopelman, vice president and chief scientist at Align Technology, Inc. When he thought about the iTero scanner, it was technology meant for general dentists and prosthodontists to digitally streamline their restorative workflows. With time, they integrated Invisalign®. Today not only can we use the iTero Element scanner for Invisalign and restorations but also as a dynamic diagnostic tool in our everyday practices.

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The unique and exclusive application features of the iTero make it in a class by itself. Features like the TimeLapse technology give us the opportunity to compare two different scans in real time and show the patient the changes that are taking place in his or her oral cavity, such as gum recession, tooth wear and tooth movement. There’s no better way to communicate with our patient and to have a real-time conversation with him or her about oral health. Patients can now be involved in the treatment conversation because we can share visualizations of their oral cavity with them. That connects them with the treatment planning outcomes that belong to them versus seeing a picture of someone else in a brochure.

You can also use the Invisalign Outcome Simulator. After the two-minute whole-mouth scan, you can show your patient a simulation of what his or her teeth and occlusion would look like if everything was aligned, balanced and functional. We, as professionals, can visualize it in our head, but patients can’t - and sometimes we forget about that experience. Plus, there’s a special feature that lets you send a copy of the simulation to the patient’s email or phone while he or she is still in the chair. What do your patients do with it? They share it with everyone and it becomes your best marketing tool!

Another feature exclusive to the iTero is the progress assessment that helps you evaluate with your patient how his or her Invisalign treatment is going. The software will give you different color guides depending on how teeth are following their path compared to where they were supposed to be at a certain point in treatment. It helps you evaluate the case, but it also helps communication with your patient. If, for example, your patient isn’t 100-percent compliant, it’s easy to show him or her what’s happening. “These teeth are not tracking perfectly. I need you to wear your Invisalign aligners 22 hours a day to get you back on track, as shown here with the Progress Assessment tool.” Patients will understand because you’ve given them a visual educational session and they now know you have very precise tools to evaluate their cases - and their cooperation!

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iTero wasn’t meant just for Invisalign but also for restoration. As general dentists, our patients want to be treated by us and they like it when we can offer different treatment options such as Invisalign, veneers, crown and bridge, etc. How will the iTero take care of a comprehensive case? Let’s say you need to create space to place an implant for tooth #7. Scan the patient, create space with Invisalign, scan again after Invisalign, make some surgical stent, create all your implant design scan for the final crown and perfectly place the crown. Now you’re implementing the use of the iTero scanner as your digital chairside assistant for pre-restorative, orthodontic and restorative cases.

Every scan you take is kept on the cloud. No need to find some place to keep all these stone models that take up space. Equip your team with technology that empowers them because we know that a happy team is more willing to integrate and learn new protocols.

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