By David Claridge, CAD/CAM Product Specialist
Long, long ago (during the Gypsum Age), arriving on the silicone and polyether shores of merry England, was the first intraoral impression scanner. It was wheeled ashore behind a dozen horses and handed to a caveman called Claridge. He was the Product Specialist for a unit that shall not be named (unless to say it was tethered to a cumbersome trolley. Claridge drove up and down the country in a special car with ramp access to his little Trojan Horse strapped in the back, and preached to any who would listen about the benefits of digital impressioning.
But the good dentists of the land asked lots of “can it do [fill in the blank]?” questions. These questions are still asked today, but there is a palpable shift that marks the development and adoption of intraoral scanners. So while Claridge was going around gathering ‘can it do’ questions, little hobbits at Carestream Dental were listening to this voice of customer feedback and taking notice. The answers to these questions fell into three categories… “Yes,” “No,” and “Not today.” You see, change happens, and has happened. In those early days, the great majority of replies were either “No” or “Not yet.”
Today, the vast majority of the ‘can it do’ questions I now receive are answered with a resounding “Yes it can!” Can it scan without powder? Can I send my scan anywhere i.e. is it truly open? Is it in HD colour? Can I store digital study models and re-import if I need them? Can I move it from room to room, over several floors? Can it scan implant scan bodies? Can I mark the margins? Can I use it for partial dentures, splints, retainers, aligners, crowns, bridges? Yes! YES!! YES!!!
So is the future digital? Are you waiting for the Promised Land? I would say no, because digital is happening TODAY. The high street has adopted digital impression scanning. The Universities are producing studies that prove digital impression scanning is more accurate than ‘the goop’. The practice managers are seeing the money saved. And finally there are the patients… I have never met a patient who prefers ‘the goop’ – have you?
So, the present and the future is, without doubt, digital. What is happening now is that full circles are being connected. Digital products are being integrated into workflows. So, Mrs Smith – your implant patient – arrives. Her notes are digitally stored in CS R4+ practice management software. She is scanned with a CBCT system and then with an intraoral scanner. But you need one file sitting on top of the other in order to plan – which is now possible, using Carestream Dental software. The file then goes to your lab team, who design digitally (no gypsum or wax is anywhere to be seen). Your digital study models and photos of this case are stored without charges. If this is a referral case, then your scans can be transferred with free communication software enabling the images to be viewed by your referring dentist, digitally.
And finally… I was present at a live demo for a patient who the dentist had specifically chosen to impress with his newly purchased CS 3600 intraoral scanner. But the patient wasn’t impressed—he said “It’s about time. That gooey stuff was out of the dark ages.”
So your patients expect digital. Come on in, the water is fine.