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Digital Dental Impression Technology

Dentist going over imaging with Patient

Today, digital impressions have become an increasingly popular form of impressions for dentists because of the convenience they provide, and the highly accurate results they produce. Dental impressions are made to create mouth guards, dentures, bridges, crowns, among other devices used in restorative dentistry. Because restorative dentistry has become a highly demanded service, and for dentists who wish to improve the productivity and accuracy of their practice, digital impressions can provide patients with the outlet they need to get the restorations they desire. But what kind of technology do digital impressions require, and are digital impressions better than the traditional method?

Traditional Impressions vs. Digital Impressions

Traditionally, dental impressions are made with a mixture called alginate, a thick liquid material found from the cells of brown seaweed. This mixture is manually applied to the mold to the patient’s mouth, capturing all the inner details and fissures that make that person’s mouth unique. With traditional impressions, the experience for the patient can be unpleasant. While there’s no pain involved, the patient will need to wait several minutes for the impression to form and may have a gag reflex when waiting for the impression to form, depending on its flavor. However, the impression material has been a go-to for dentists for decades, and the quality of the alginate will typically yield more accurate results.

Digital impressions, on the other hand, use CAD/CAM technology to scan and upload the impressions digitally. Digital impressions increase efficiency, accuracy, and productivity, and make the process of transferring impressions to a dental laboratory easier. They improve the fitting quality for the finished restoration product, give more comfort to the patient, reduce the possibility of errors, and shorten the amount of time taken to take the impression.

Types of Technology Used For Digital Impressions

By eliminating the sticky impression material, dentists can either use digital photography or digital video to capture the images of the mouth. Here are some of the systems dentist use to take digital impressions:

  • Digital impression systems — These systems digitally record the tooth preparations, adjacent teeth, the opposing teeth, and bite registration. The data from this system is transmitted electronically to the dental laboratory. Some brand names popular with this system include the Cadent iTero, the Sirona CEREC Connect, and the 3M ESPE Lava Chairside Oral Scanner.
  • Digital chairside systems — These systems record digital impressions specifically used for the dental office, especially if that office is equipped with the technology to design, mil, and deliver restorations. Some of the technology that incorporates this system include Cirona CEREC Acquisition Center (AC) and the D4D Technologies E4D Dentist System.

Other systems can incorporate both types and can be used for all types of restorations, such as the iTero and Lava Cos. The previous systems mentioned are designed for ceramic and composite systems. Overall, digital impressions take the costs out of practice and help both the patient and the practice save money.

Find yourself interested in learning more about digital impressions? If you need a restoration, then contact Fox Valley Dental, home to Dr. Bob Dokhanchi and located in Aurora, IL, to schedule a dental checkup today.

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