Taking Digital Impressions in an OMS Practice—Less Time, Happier Patients

As an oral surgeon, I do many procedures that require impressions—fabricating surgical guides, creating appliances to correct sleep apnea, etc. I’ve seen great results when using a digital scanner to take impressions in place of conventional impression materials. Not only is the process faster and more efficient, but I’ve noticed that my patients also prefer digital impressions to the potentially gag-inducing polyvinyl or alginate.

Let’s compare the conventional way of taking impressions—the way we were all taught in school—to the new way of capturing digital impressions:

Steps in Process Traditional Impressions Digital Impresions
Step 1 Choose correct impression material (alginate or polyvinyl) Turn on scanner
Step 2 Lay out tools (mixing pads, spatulas, adhesive, various sizes of trays, etc.) Select one of two scanner tips, small or large
Step 3 Select correct maxillary and madibular trays Scan area of interst
Step 4 Prepare trays and start mixing materials Upload STL files to lab
Step 5 Take impression (possibly struggling with a patient with a strong gag reflex)
Step 6 Pour up stone model
Step 7 Wait for model to dry
Step 8 Separate model
Step 9 Trim model
Step 10 Package and ship model to lab (and hope it doesn’t break)


As you can see, using a digital scanner eliminates more than half the steps of traditional impressions. It’s also worth mentioning that—because no physical model is made when using a scanner—costs are kept down (materials, shipping, etc.).

My patients have also noticed a difference with the digital scanners. If a patient has a strong gag reflex, we simply use the smaller scanner tip, making it a much more comfortable experience for them. Patients can also appreciate the speed at which a scanner can take an impression, as it means less time in the chair. Finally, using a digital scanner has a “cool factor;” patients are impressed with the cutting-edge technology. Plus, they seem to feel safer in my hands knowing I’m keeping up with the latest advancements in the field.

I have found that a digital scanner saves my staff and me valuable time and money while keeping my patients happier and less stressed. Besides digital impressions, what other ways have you found a digital scanner to benefit your OMS practice?

Author: Bart W. Silverman, D.M.D.

Dr. Silverman is in private practice limited to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in New City, NY and is an attending Physician at Westchester County Medical Center, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Nyack Hospital, Department of Dentistry. He is also a Clinical Associate Professor at New York Medical College. He lectures nationally on several different implant systems and is President of the Bi-State and Hudson River Implant Study Clubs. He is a past president of the Rockland County Dental Society and previously served on the Board of Governors of the Ninth District Dental Society. Dr. Silverman graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1982 Summa Cum Laude and received his doctorate in Dental Medicine in 1986 from Fairleigh Dickinson Jr. School of Dentistry, where he was a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honor Society. He completed his Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical residency at Westchester County Medical Center in 1989 and was Chief Resident during his final year. Dr. Silverman is currently a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.