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?