Benefits of digital impressions

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Digital impressions are becoming increasingly commonplace in modern dentistry as an alternative to traditional impressions, which are made by shaping dental putty in the mouth. Digital technology offers a number of benefits when compared to conventional techniques; here are some of the major benefits:

Reduced treatment time: digital impressions can be produced much faster than conventional impressions, which means less time in the dental chair. Time savings are particularly impressive in cases where scanners are linked to milling machines, for example in the case of Cerec technology. Not only are the virtual models produced in minutes, but they are then sent to on-site milling machines, which cuts treatment time from 2 weeks to a single day and enables dentists to offer the complete treatment process, rather than using a laboratory.

Increased accuracy: scanners generate detailed images with absolutely no room for error, while putty moulds are created by dentists and then reproduced by dental technicians. Even the most skilled professionals can make mistakes and even the slightest discrepancy in shape or size can contribute to a lack of comfort for the patient. The quality of the images is also far superior to a putty impression.

Simple sharing and storage: digital impressions are formed in minutes with no stress or discomfort at all. Once they are ready, they can be shared with the laboratory and other dental professionals involved in the treatment plan, in seconds. Digital files can be stored permanently and re-used whenever they are required; this saves space and prevents the need for redoing impressions.

Cleanliness and comfort: if you’ve ever had a putty mould for a new crown or a mouth guard, you’re probably aware that it’s not the most pleasant or comfortable experience, especially if you gag easily or you don’t like the feeling of having things in your mouth. Creating a putty mould can also be messy. Digital impressions are much cleaner for dentists and much more tolerable for patients.

Education: many patients take an interest in their treatment and with digital impressions, it’s much easier to enable to them to see what’s going on and talk them through the images and the treatment process. Scan images are available to view on monitors and you can zoom in and out, crop and edit the images as you wish. For anxious dental patients, being able to talk them through the images and what they mean can help to reduce anxiety and increase confidence.

Environmentally-friendly: digital technology reduces waste and provides a solution for storage issues. Digital impressions eliminate the need to buy and dispose of paper, plastic or cardboard trays and materials used to create traditional moulds.

Improved communication: with digital impressions, dentists and laboratory technicians can communicate very easily and quickly; if there are mistakes or problems, these can be spotted and addressed instantly, rather than days later once the mould has been made, delivered to the laboratory and then looked at by a technician. If there are issues with the scan, the images can be redone very quickly and simply, rather than having to go through the process of a remake, which is time-consuming for the dentist and inconvenient for the patient.

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Guide to Digital Impressions and Scanning