A Diplomate shows dentists the ins and outs of accurate digital impressions for sleep appliances.
Intraoral dental scanners provide dentists with a tool that can digitally capture the images of teeth and surrounding soft tissue with astonishing accuracy. The clinician simply waves a rather expensive wand over the teeth and a rotatable image instantly appears on the screen. This new technology can represent an opportunity to replace old methods with one that is faster and more comfortable for the patient. But the unknowns of scanning can be intimidating, as is the case for many dentists whose training and experience have always focused on physical impressions and plaster models. Although the presence of scanners in dentistry is becoming increasingly more common, it is estimated that less than 25% of dental offices own a scanner, and those that do tend to be larger multi-dentist practices.1
How do a scanner handpiece and a computer produce a printable 3D image? As Yale University professor of biomedical engineering James Duncan, PhD, a pioneer in 3D image technology, explains, scanners “gather information about the shape and size of dental structure or arches as well as the position of implants by first projecting structured light (basically a light grid pattern) or a laser beam onto a tooth’s surface and then recording how the pattern or the beam is changed or distorted when it hits the surface using very high resolution cameras. Then software is used to reconstruct or form a full 3D model of the structure by fitting a polygonal mesh to a large set of points that cover the tooth or teeth being studied.”
In dentistry, increased accuracy means fewer remakes and reduced chair time for insertion adjustments. Recent tests on in-vitro models have shown scanners to have accuracies (trueness) in the range of 50 micrometers (ranging from 20 to about 100 micrometers).2,3 David Walton, CEO and founder of sleep apnea therapy company Respire Medical (acquired by Whole You), welcomes scans for oral appliances. “Due to the accuracy of digital scans, not…