Digital Impressions

Do you cringe at the thought of goopy dental impressions? Conventional dental impressions use a putty-like material in plastic mouth trays, and patients must make sure their teeth remain in precisely the same relation to one another until the impression is set. Even the tiniest movement can render the impression unusable, and the entire procedure must be repeated. We know many people hate this process, finding it uncomfortable at best. For others, it is even worse and especially for those with a strong gag reflex and who can feel as if they are choking on the impression tray and its contents.

You’ll be pleased to know that when you need a dental impression here at McLoughlin Dental Care, you don’t need to go through that rigamarole. Our principal dentist Dr. Donald Nimz has invested in the latest technology to ensure our patients feel more comfortable and relaxed in the dental chair, and which takes far more accurate dental impressions than traditional trays. Our office is equipped with an iTero digital scanner, a revolutionary technology that is banishing tray impressions into the past.

What is an Intra-Oral Digital Scanner?

An intra-oral digital scanner is a tiny, hand-held wand containing a digital camera designed to scan your teeth comfortably. The wand is very small, so it can fit easily right to the back of the mouth without prompting the gag reflex.

With this technique, we still prepare teeth in exactly the same way as normal, so your mouth is numbed before the damaged portion of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is shaped for the filling, crown, or another dental restoration like an implant or veneer. Once we are happy with the preparation, the magic begins.

Instead of messy impression materials, we lightly dust your teeth with a special reflective powder. Dusting your teeth allows the camera to record more accurate images, capturing all those nooks and crannies. Next, we simply pass the wand around your mouth, and it captures thousands of frames each second. This tiny device uses blue wavelength light allowing it to record every nuance of a tooth. The wand is connected to the computer and these frames are stitched together digitally, creating a 3-D visualization of your mouth.

What Are Some of the Advantages of an Intra-Oral Scanner?

Using an intra-oral scanner to take digital impressions offers several clear benefits beyond increased comfort for our patients.

Images Are Instantly Viewable on Screen

One major advantage is that our dentist Dr. Nimz can view the images instantly on-screen. He can magnify areas of interest and can make sure the impression is accurate and has captured every detail needed. Also, we can immediately identify if the preparation needs to be shaped slightly differently to make it easier for our dental lab to make the restoration properly. Sometimes this might be necessary as the digital impression allows the dentist to examine your bite more accurately.

With conventional dental impressions, it’s quite common for tiny drags or air bubbles to develop. These discrepancies can be difficult to see with the naked eye but can make all the difference between a well-fitting dental restoration or a restoration that will need remaking, requiring more appointments. When a conventional tray impression is sent to the dental lab, it can take quite a while for them to cast the model and for someone to examine it, making sure it is suitable for producing a good quality restoration. If the impression isn’t ideal, the dentist must be contacted and the case discussed further to see if they want to proceed or wish to recall the patient for another impression. It’s a process that adds a significant amount of time to the treatment plan, and especially when another impression is needed.

Digital Impressions Are Quicker

With digital impressions, it’s a far quicker process to make any minor adjustments to the preparation while you are still in the dental chair. We can retake the scan immediately rather than having to recall you later for another messy impression session! Also, we realize many people struggle to fit multiple dental appointments into their busy schedules. Digital dental impressions are just one way we can make sure your appointments and treatments run smoothly and efficiently. Once we are entirely satisfied with the scan, it is instantly sent to the dental lab. Because the lab receives the impression almost instantaneously, they can begin working on it that much more quickly as there is no delay in arranging delivery of the dental impression.

More Accurate Than Conventional Tray Impressions

Because the impression is captured digitally, it is much more accurate than a conventional tray impression. This is a huge advantage because it allows the lab to precision-make your prosthesis and especially ensuring it has good margins that fit around the tooth tightly. Good margins are extremely important because a well-fitting restoration will prevent disease-causing bacteria from getting underneath and reaching the prepared tooth, potentially causing more decay and infection.

Faster Appointments for Fitting Your Restoration

Because your dental restoration is created digitally and is precision-made, it is quicker to fit. Often, when a dental restoration is made using a conventional impression, it’s necessary to modify the restoration slightly to get it to fit accurately in the mouth. Once fitted, the restoration may need to be adjusted further to make sure your teeth bite together properly and comfortably. Few, if any adjustments are needed with a digitally made restoration so your appointment is shorter and smoother.

A Greener Technology

These days, we all want to protect the world we live in, and a digital dental impression helps to do just that. Those uncomfortable plastic mouth trays containing that uncomfortable goopy impression material will generally end up in landfill as they are single use only. Then there are the packing materials required to ship the impression. Digital dental impressions eliminate the need for all those materials, saving valuable resources. Also, it’s much easier to store digital records securely and when needed, we can compare these records with more recent scans of your teeth, allowing us to identify any changes in your dental health accurately.