Digital impressions compared to traditional impressions

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Digital and conventional impressions may be use for the same reason, but there are lots of differences between the two techniques; here are some of the main differences:

  • Time: digital impressions can be created within a couple of minutes; conventional impressions may take up to 20 minutes to create.
  • Technique: the main difference between these two types of impression is the technique used to obtain the finished result; with digital impressions, digital imaging technology is used to create virtual 3D impressions. With traditional techniques, dental materials are used to form the impression; this involves placing putty-like material inside the mouth and shaping it to the contours of your teeth and gums.
  • Aesthetic: the aesthetic of the final product is completely different, even though the impressions are of the same mouth; with traditional techniques, the process produces a tangible mould and with digital impressions, the process creates digital images, which are seen on a monitor.
  • Accuracy: digital impressions are much more accurate than traditional impressions; there is no possibility of human errors and images can be re-taken very quickly and easily if there are any problems.
  • Number of appointments: the number of appointments is usually lower when digital impressions are used, especially if the clinic has an on-site milling machine, as well as a digital scanner (CEREC is an example of this).
  • Environmental impact: digital technology is more environmentally friendly as the images are stored and shared electronically; this eliminates the need for disposing of waste materials.
  • Flexibility and scope: there is much more scope to do things with digital impressions than with traditional impressions; you can share, enlarge and alter images as you wish. Once the mould is set, there is very little you can do and if there is a mistake, the impression will have to be remade. You can also layer digital images to build a more comprehensive view of the mouth.

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