Types of digital impression technology


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Digital impression technology is capable of creating digital images and videos of both the hard and soft oral tissue. Digital impressions are commonly used to create new dental appliances and restorations and they can also be instrumental in planning orthodontic and implant treatment.

There are two main ways digital impressions are created: using digital and laser scanners. Digital scanners usually require the patient to have powder applied to their teeth before the scan, while laser scanners require very little preparation. Both types of scanner produce highly accurate and detailed images very quickly; these images are available to view on the monitor.

There are currently 4 major systems on the market, including:

  • CEREC by Sirona
  • 3M ESPE Lava COS
  • Cadent iTero
  • E4D by D4D Technologies

Both the Sirona and E4D scanners can be used in conjunction with milling machines, which enable dental practices to offer a complete restorative package on-site. With these scanners, the images are generated and then sent onto the on-site milling machine; this means that a patient can have their restoration designed, made and fitted on the same day. With the 3M and Cadent iTero scanners, the images are sent to the laboratory and the finished product is then returned to the practice for fitting when it is ready.

CEREC and 3C Lava Cos systems use LED lighting to produce images, while Cadent iTero and E4D scanners utilise laser technology. With the LED scanners, a fine powder is sprayed onto the teeth before the scan begins


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Guide to Digital Impressions and Scanning