One major concern of people when it comes to some dental restorations is the tedious process of creating them. Complex restorations like braces, veneers, inlays and onlays, dental crowns, and dental bridges require the dentist to create a 3D model of the patient's dentition, to be used by the dental laboratory as a pattern for creating the needed restoration. This is done by using a semi-solid plaster material poured in an impression tray, and pushed in a patient's dentition.
The teeth and gums will leave an imprint in the plaster material, making a mold that represents the patient's dentition. This "negative" mold will be used to create a "positive" cast, which will be the 3D model that dental laboratories will use in creating the restoration. Aside from being cost and time inefficient, this traditional process is uncomfortable for the patient, and is prone to numerous errors.
Today, most dentists in Oxon Hill Maryland use a computer technology in creating digital impressions for their patient's teeth. An infrared camera or laser scanner captures images or a video clip of a patient's mouth. The digital file will then be sent, and interpreted in a 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) system, where the dentist can visually create a 3D model of the patient's dentition without the need for a "negative" mold. With the help of the 3D CAD system, the dentist can design the needed restoration, and check its shape, size, and fit. Once the final design is complete, the dentist can send it to the dental laboratory or, if they have a CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) system, can have the restoration prepared and created immediately.
More than just being a status symbol, using digital impressions has a lot of advantages compared to the traditional process. It is time efficient for both the dentist and the patient, since it does not require a lot of preparatory work, and it can be created in as little as 10 minutes. Unlike the mold-and-cast process which is prone to a lot errors, a digital impression creates a more accurate and precise model of a patient's mouth. Should there be an error or a mistake in a single spot of the impression, the dentist can just re-scan that area, and edit the digital file, unlike in the traditional process where a new cast needs to be created.
A digital copy of a patient's dentition also makes it easier for the dentist to check the fit of the restoration, and make necessary adjustments even before creating it. Some dentists even show it to their patients so they can see what the end result will look like. Since it is digital, it can be sent to the dental laboratory via email, and can be saved in a hard drive for future reference.
It is impressive that dentistry is making use of today's advanced technology in giving patients a more efficient, and more convenient dental procedure experience. With the help of digital impressions, achieving a perfect smile and healthy dentition definitely becomes faster, more efficient, and more precise.