Digital Impressions

Traditionally when dental professionals needed to reproduce the structures of the oral cavity. It required a dental impression using impression material placed inside the mouth. A stone material was then poured in the impression material to produce a stone copy of the oral tissues. This has worked well, but does take time and the impression taking procedure can be uncomfortable with certain individuals. We now have the ability to digitally image the structures of the oral cavity, instantly transferring this information into a digital format to be used for multiple applications. This is accomplished using a small wand that goes into the mouth essentially photographing the structures of the oral cavity. This information is instantly transferred in digital form. This can be transferred to a lab where the restorative dentist can custom design the needed prosthesis or 3D printers to produce accurate models of the dental structures. This technology is now being used in implant dentistry. Scan bodies are placed on the implant and used during the scan process. This scan body allows the lab and the restorative dentist to identify the position of the implant and use this digital reproduction of the oral tissue to custom design the individualized abutment and crown. This process saves the patient the need for intraoral impressions. It also can save the patient one or two appointments. As with any new technology, there are many other applications that are being explored. This is true with digital impressions. One area of investigation is the coupling of digital impression with 3D printers. This can quickly and accurately reproduce the oral structures to be used for multiple applications. Another new application of digital impressions is in the arena of craniofacial surgery. These digital impressions can be coupled with Cat Scans of the skeletal bones to be used with Virtual treatment planning for facial surgery.