Digital impressions represent cutting-edge technology that allows dentists to create a virtual, computer-generated replica of the hard and soft tissues in the mouth using lasers and other optical scanning devices. The digital technology captures clear and highly accurate impression data in mere minutes, without the need for traditional impression materials that some patients find inconvenient and messy. Many patients find digital impressions an easier and more comfortable procedure because traditional impression materials are avoided. The impression information then is transferred to a computer and used to create restorations, often without the need for stone models.
Types of Digital Impression Technology
There are two types of digital impression technology currently available for dentists to use. One type captures the images as digital photographs, providing dentists and dental laboratories with a series of images; the other type captures images as digital video.
The images can be captured using lasers or digital scanning. Laser scanning uses concentrated light that is safe and highly precise. It captures all of the details of the teeth and gums while eliminating the patient’s need to hold unpleasant, distasteful material in his or her mouth. Digital optical scanners also are safe and highly accurate, but require teeth to be powder-coated with a special spray before scanning to ensure all parts of the impression are recorded properly.
Benefits of Digital Impressions
Digital optical impressions significantly increase efficiency, productivity and accuracy, and make it possible for dentists to e-mail the virtual impression to the laboratory, rather than send a traditional impression or stone model via regular mail. Also, digital impressions can be used to make same day dentistry restorations, thereby speeding up patient treatment and reducing the need for multiple office visits.