Before, we’ve talked about how 3D printing has created an avenue for patients to receive same-day restorations. Today, we’ll be looking a little deeper into that process and talk about an underappreciated aspect of 3D printing that has saved dentists time and money while providing better accuracy: digital impressions! These impressions have increased the efficiency, accuracy, and quality of care for our patients, improving the comfort and precision needed for long-lasting restorations.
What are Digital Impressions?
Originally, dentists only had a manual way of creating an impression. These impressions would use alginate impression trays. The alginate would be used as a gel that would be mixed with water, placed in the tray, and after the waiting period for the alginate to set, would then be placed in the patient’s mouth. These impression trays would typically take as long as 45 minutes to fully capture the patient’s mouth details and require the patient to withstand the materials’ taste and smell. That tray would then be sent to a dental laboratory, which would take weeks to analyze and fabricate.
Digital impressions are 3D images of your mouth and are created using intraoral scanners. These scanners are small enough to fit inside a person’s mouth and scan the inside using a scanner light. This process takes about a minute and a half to complete, as your dentist reviews the real-time image to view. Through this digital impression, your dentist can enlarge and manipulate the image to look at the fine details. These digital impressions can be used to create restorations, such as crowns, bridges, and dentures. They can also be used for surgical guides to accurately place implants and help orthodontists visualize how they can help straighten their teeth.
The Benefits of Digital Impressions
Unlike alginate, digital impressions offer a multitude of conveniences that make it highly superior, which include:
- Accuracy: Because the alginate heavily relies on manual use, the materials sometimes don’t capture as many details as needed for the restoration. Digital impressions have a higher accuracy rating that can be recaptured at any point. It also tends to create finer details, which matters when looking at chipped, cracked, and unhealthy teeth.
- Less Time-Consuming: Alginate impressions heavily rely on dental laboratories to produce the model for the restoration. Depending on the business, it can take weeks for the laboratory to communicate with the dental office and provide them with the restorations they need. Digital impressions help remove that obscurity and speed up the process, even allowing dentists to create restorations themselves!
- Less Invasive: Patients who’d have to sit in the dental chair for 45 minutes or more can have an uncomfortable experience, especially if they suffer from chronic pain. Depending on the alginate brand, it can taste terrible, and the sensation of sticky gel in the mouth is not a good sensation to experience! Digital impressions only use scanners to get their impressions, which makes it a more positive experience.
Digital impressions have made a huge impact on dental health care. If you would like to learn more about these types of impressions and how they affect your visits, schedule an appointment with Dr. Alina Huang at Glow Dental NYC, located in New York, NY, today!