If you’re unhappy with the alignment of your teeth, you may have considered correcting your smile with Invisalign. These discreet aligners help straighten your teeth without traditional brackets and wires. Originally, dental impressions were needed for Invisalign aligners. However, a revolutionary technology–the iTero scanner–allows orthodontic professionals at Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA to capture an accurate scan of your teeth in minutes, eliminating the need for traditional impressions.
What Is the iTero Scanner?
First launched in 2007, the iTero scanner allows your orthodontist to capture a digital impression of your mouth and teeth using a wand which takes thousands of images per second with a radiation-free laser to create a precise digital scan. Each scan is automatically evaluated for any errors or abnormalities to achieve the highest level of accuracy.
From the images captured during the scan, a full digital dental impression is created and can be shared among dental and orthodontic care providers as well as third parties like Invisalign. This allows the seamless transfer of information and the confidence that comes with knowing that the scan being used to create your Invisalign aligner shows an up-to-date, accurate image of your teeth.
How Does It Differ From Traditional Dental Impressions?
In the past, preparing for braces, Invisalign aligners, veneers, and other dental and orthodontic services involved taking a dental impression, usually with alginate, polyvinyl siloxane, or some other impression material. This process involves putting the impression material into a dental tray, fitting that tray into the mouth of the patient, and waiting 30-60 seconds for the material to set. While taking an impression is not painful, it can be uncomfortable, especially for patients with smaller mouths or a sensitive gag reflex.
In addition, traditional dental impressions can be inaccurate due to distortion of the material from any patient movement or the removal of the impression. This may require one or more repeat impressions, which can be an unpleasant process for the patient.
An iTero scanner is able to capture thousands of images within seconds, giving your orthodontist the best view of issues or concerns in addition to the overall structure of your mouth and teeth. All of this is done with a small wand that can scan the back corners of the mouth with significantly less discomfort or chance of stimulating the gag reflex.
How Does It Differ From Other Intraoral Scanners?
While there are other digital scanners available, they sometimes require additional steps to achieve an accurate scan, such as coating the teeth in titanium dioxide powder. These scanners also tend to feature bulkier wands, which may result in discomfort for patients with smaller mouths or a higher chance of stimulating a patient’s gag reflex. Larger wands also make it difficult to capture images of molars in the back corners of your mouth, which affects the quality of your scan and any resulting treatments based on it.
An iTero scanner is able to capture 6000 frames per second using laser imaging, giving your orthodontist an unparalleled look at every inch of your teeth. The technology featured in an iTero scanner allows your orthodontist to see the results of a scan on a screen in real-time and check for accuracy before submitting images to other parties. This ensures that the resulting treatment will be designed with the best blueprint available: an in-depth, 3D scan of the exact shape and contours of your teeth and gums.
What Can I Expect?
This scanner is known for its excellent imaging capabilities, making it a top choice for many dental and orthodontic offices committed to offering the best care available to their patients. If you’re interested in a digital impression, here’s what you can expect during a normal appointment.
Before you have a scan taken, your orthodontist will consult with you to explain the process of taking a digital impression in detail and answer any questions you may have. In general, this scanner is safe and reliable for most patients. However, your orthodontist will evaluate any factors which may make you a better candidate for a different approach to taking a dental impression.
In addition, your orthodontist will examine your teeth and mouth to visualize your areas of concern. This allows them to identify the areas which need correction or realignment and confirm that a treatment option like Invisalign is the best for you. Once your orthodontist is satisfied with your candidacy and you are prepared for the scan, you will be able to have your first digital dental impression performed.
Your orthodontist will introduce you to the scanner machine, which consists of the physical unit, a large display screen, and a small wand specially designed to reach the back of the mouth without causing discomfort. Your orthodontist will ask you to open your mouth and will begin scanning your top and bottom sets of teeth with the wand, which captures up to 6000 images per second with a radiation-free laser. The wand is covered with a sterile, single-use wand shield to make sure that your scanning experience provides maximum protection from disease.
The entire scanning process is relatively quick, and it can be easily paused at any point if you need to give your jaw a short break. Your orthodontist can remove the wand from your mouth and resume the scanning process without affecting the final impression. Most scans take 10-15 minutes in total, after which point you’ll be able to see your results.
Once the scanner has captured all the necessary images of your teeth and gums, a 3D visualization of your mouth will be generated and displayed on the screen. This resulting digital impression is then reviewed by your orthodontist. Any issues with the scan are automatically indicated by the machine, which helps your orthodontist determine whether the scan is precise enough to be used as a model. While first-time scans are almost always accurate, taking a second scan is just as quick and easy as taking the first scan.
Once your orthodontist has confirmed that the digital impression is precise, you’ll be able to see your final result on the screen. You can see a literal copy of your teeth and gums along with every crevice and unique feature.
If you’re having a digital impression taken in order to have Invisalign aligners made, your orthodontist can give you a special preview of what treatment will do for your teeth. The scanner is outfitted with an Invisalign simulator which can predict how the aligners will move and re-align your teeth. This gives you a possible before and after scenario to see before your Invisalign aligner is even created.
Thanks to the instant image sending ability of the scanner, your Invisalign aligner will be ready much more quickly than if your orthodontist took a traditional dental impression. It’s estimated that impressions taken with a digital scanner result in aligners arriving in as few as 3 weeks. Once you receive your aligner, you can begin wearing it immediately and will see your smile transformed as your teeth become straighter.
What Else Can This Scanner Do?
Beyond taking digital impressions in order to create an Invisalign aligner, this scanner can also take impressions for other common dental and orthodontic jobs and purposes.
Create Quality Crowns, Implants, and Veneers
The digital impression taken by your orthodontist can be used for a variety of other dental and orthodontic work. One of the most common uses is to create crowns, implants, and veneers, all of which traditionally required a dental impression with a dental tray and impression material. For many patients seeking these treatments, taking a full mouth impression for work on one or two teeth is inconvenient and uncomfortable.
However, a digital impression is quick, easy, and creates a full 3D image of your teeth and gums which can be used as a guide for multiple dental and orthodontic jobs.
Instead of having several impressions taken, your orthodontist or dentist can use your recent digital impression to create the guide for crowns, implants, and veneers. The 3D image of your mouth can be shared between your dental and orthodontic care providers in seconds. The accuracy of your scan means that your resulting products will be perfectly tailored to your teeth.
Enhance Treatment Strategies
Many times, your orthodontist needs a 3D model of your mouth to recommend the best treatment options for your unique circumstances. This model allows them to see into every corner of your mouth, including all the positions of your teeth and any issues they may not be able to see clearly with the naked eye. Taking a traditional dental impression and creating a model from this impression can be inaccurate due to a variety of factors, including patient movement during the creation of the impression or imperfections in the impression material.
With a 3D digital impression, your orthodontist will have an instantly accessible scan of your teeth and gums, which they can consult at any point during your treatment. There’s no waiting period for a mold to be created. This allows your orthodontist to recommend treatment as soon as they have studied the 3D impression.
They can even consult with other professionals by sharing the digital impression. Even better, they can show you exactly how treatment will affect your smile thanks to the scanner’s large, patient-friendly display screen. These benefits result in faster, more exact treatment strategies.
Save Digital Impressions for an Accurate Dental Record
Traditional dental impressions take up space in dental offices. It’s helpful to have a visual record of the movement and condition of your teeth over the years, but most offices can only store impressions for so many years before they run out of storage room and the impressions need to be thrown away. With your digital impression safe and secure in your orthodontist’s digital records, your dental and orthodontic care providers can have access to extensive records of your impressions.
If your teeth shift or you require further treatment after having a digital scan performed–even if it’s years later–your orthodontist will be able to reference your past scan. This allows them to track your progress or help you restore your teeth to their desired positions in the case of teeth shifting over time. This exact record of your smile is invaluable in providing the best, most informed care possible.
Benefits of iTero Scanner Digital Impressions
Choosing to forego a traditional dental impression in favor of a top-quality scan can be a great option for patients who dislike the taste, texture, or sensation of impression materials. It can also benefit those patients who have smaller mouths and experience discomfort when a standard-sized dental impression tray is inserted into their mouths. There is no exposure to ionizing radiation (x-rays), and your impression is guaranteed to be free from inaccuracies caused by movements that can disrupt materials in a traditional impression.
Scanning with an iTero scanner results in excellent accuracy and quicker creation and delivery of aligners thanks to the digital impression’s instant sending ability. In as few as 3 weeks, you could have your Invisalign aligners and begin wearing them to get the smile you’ve always wanted. Best of all, a digital impression scan can reduce inaccuracy and give you a final product that fits your teeth and meets your expectations perfectly!
Am I an Ideal Candidate?
While this method of taking digital impressions is both safe and effective, your orthodontist will be the expert to determine whether it’s the right choice for you. If you are someone who finds the thought of most dental or orthodontic work to be intimidating, this scanner can remove much of the apprehension associated with having a dental impression made. It can also be a good choice for those who experience a gagging reflex during invasive dental or orthodontic work.
If you experience advanced alignment or orthodontic issues, a digital dental impression can help your orthodontist see a precise rendering of your teeth and gums within minutes, giving them the added information they need to recommend the best course of treatment for your specific situation.
It’s also the fastest option available for those patients who wish to begin their Invisalign treatments as soon as possible thanks to instant image delivery. Finally, it can be the perfect option for someone working with multiple dental and orthodontic care providers as impressions can be shared freely for collaborative care.
A Perfect Picture for a Perfect Smile
Misaligned teeth can be a source of insecurity for people of all ages. You may feel less willing to truly smile, even when you’re happy, and wish to avoid showing people your teeth in social situations. This lack of confidence stemming from your smile can affect your entire life.
Correcting your areas of concern is possible, but many people avoid addressing dental issues due to an aversion to invasive practices such as traditional dental impressions, which can cause discomfort and gagging. Since many orthodontic and dental concerns cannot be addressed without an impression, this leaves some patients with no options.
iTero scanning can be the perfect solution for patients who wish to avoid traditional dental impressions. This technology is consistently updated to keep it at the forefront of dental imaging innovation and can provide a highly accurate 3D digital impression in minutes. If you’re ready to learn more about how a digital dental impression can deliver faster, more precise results, contact the professionals at Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA. We look forward to serving you and helping you always smile with confidence!