All digital scanners will produce a clinically acceptable image, but they are not all the same. The scanner is the device that actually captures an impression of the tooth. It is sometimes called the impression wand or the camera.
Whatever you call it, like most other every high tech device, impression image capture systems have come a long way in recent years. Developments in photo, video and laser 3D technology have made digital impressions extremely accurate. If we assume clinically acceptable image quality, what features should dentists look for when choosing a scanner?
Ease of Use: Do you need to “powder” the image? This is an extra step that takes time, is technique sensitive and is uncomfortable for the patient. If you can eliminate this step, that is a plus.
How does the scanner fit in your hand and in the patient’s mouth? Can you easily get the head of the scanner in a position to scan the distal of a second molar?
How easy is it to steady the scanner to take an image? Can you rest it on a tooth? Do you need to use a foot control or mouse to take an image or does the system take them for you? Is there an aiming system that guides you in taking images? How easy is it to switch from one arch to the other, from teeth to bite and to back up if needed?
Flexibility: Can you use the scanner to take an impression for the lab or for an in-office mill? Not all restorative situations are good candidates for in-office CAD/CAM, however most can still be imaged and then sent to the lab as a digital impression instead of a PVS (goo) impression. If your scanner can only do one or the other, you are extremely limited and may soon be buying a new system that can do both.
Interoperability: Interoperability is the ability of different systems from different manufacturers to work together. Can you send the images from your intraoral scanner to the labs, software and mills of your choice, or are you held hostage by the vendor?
What factors are important to you when it comes to choosing an intraoral scanner?