Intraoral Scanners—Saving the Earth, One Impression at a Time

Conventional impressions in landfill graphicDoctors are always looking for ways to save—save teeth, save patients time, save money. What about saving the environment? Without even realizing it, dentistry has a huge impact in the Earth: plastic impression trays pile up in landfills, paper charting can use up to 10,000 pieces of paper a year. The overarching solution is to switch to digital solutions, e.g., digital scanning instead of using impression material, digital charting instead of paper files. Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’ll take closer look at one such digital solution that can decrease dentistry’s footprint on the environment—intraoral scanning.

Let’s compare some of the aspects of the traditional impression workflow with using an intraoral scanner and how each affects the environment:


Traditional Impression

Environmental Impact Digital Impression Environmental Impact

Plastic tray to take impression

Ends up in landfill; 450 years to break down Few consumables, no trays whatsoever


Polyvinyl siloxane (PVS) impression

Ends up in landfill; never breaks down Impression is digital, no physical impression


Courier drives to practice to pick up impression

More cars on the road; carbon emissions Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab


OR Impression is shipped to lab

Paper, cardboard or styrofoam packaging; fuel used by delivery truck or airplane

Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab


According to a Dental Economics article, the average dental practice takes 384 impressions per year—or one a day, give or take. Considering the Kaiser Family Foundation claims there are 210,030 dentists in the United States alone, and with less than one in five doctors* using a digital impression system, you could imagine how quickly those plastic trays and discarded PVS impressions add up in a landfill.

Instead, consider using an intraoral scanner and adopting a digital impressions workflow. With an intraoral scanner, doctors can cutback many of the consumables associated with traditional impressions, including plastic trays, alginate powder and PVS materials. This not only keeps these harmful plastics out of landfills, but keeps more money in a doctor’s pocket. Since the impressions are digital, there’s no need to waste paper or cardboard on carefully packaging physical impressions or having a courier use a car to pick up the impressions. Instead, digital files are shared with labs and referrals through a secure web portal. This keeps cars off the road and also ensures impressions don’t break or shrink/expand during shipping. Plus, if doctors choose to mill their own restorations in-office, there’s no need to have final restorations shipped or delivered back to the practice.

Digital impressions have numerous benefits to doctors, staff and patients such as less mess, less time and faster turnaround with the lab. This Earth Day, consider the added benefit an intraoral scanner and digital impressions could have on the environment.

*”2015 Technology Census,” Dental Product Shopper, Vol 10, No. 2, pages 72-73


>>>Find out more information about the CS 3600 intraoral scanner here.

Author: Carestream Dental Blog Administrator

Carestream Dental provides industry-leading imaging, CAD/CAM, software and practice management solutions for dental and oral health professionals. With more than 100 years of industry experience, Carestream Dental products are used by seven out of 10 practitioners globally and deliver more precise diagnoses, improved workflows and superior patient care. For more information visit