Dental Scanner

The technology that facilitates digital planning and production (CAD/CAM) of dental restorations such as crowns, porcelain laminates and onlays (porcelain fillings) has existed for decades. However, only over the past few years has this technology developed into a powerful tool that is accessible to the public. Information about the required size and shape of a crown, for example, need to be sent from the patient’s mouth to the dental technician. The classic method of relaying this information is by taking impressions of the teeth. A metal/plastic tray with soft impression material is placed in the patient’s mouth, and it is removed after the material solidifies. In this way, the shape of the teeth is imprinted in the material. The impression is then sent to the dental laboratory, where the technician pours plaster into the model and creates the mould of the teeth to be used for the rehabilitation.

Over the years, dentists sought ways of simplifying this procedure while additionally collecting information that is not provided using the regular method. This led to the invention of the first dental scanner at University of Zurich, later marketed by the German company, Sirona.

How does the dental scanner work?

The scanner is composed of two parts:

1. The scanner itself – A sophisticated optical camera that photographs the patient’s teeth quickly and precisely. The dentist scans the patient’s teeth while the camera takes dozens of pictures in seconds.

2. Computer + software – The collection of photos is combined by the software to produce an exact digital photo of the patient’s mouth. It is possible to immediately see the area where treatment will be done in enlarged, clear images that show every possible direction. If a problem is identified, the dentist can return to the patient’s mouth, correct it and scan again. The process is quick, accessible and comfortable. Afterward, the software can be used to precisely plan the necessary restoration. For example, in the case of a crown, the crown can be planned to exactly fit the patient’s tooth and match the other teeth in the mouth in terms of size, shape and occlusion. The information is then digitally transferred to the production unit (“digital crown”).

Advantages of the scanner:

1. No impressions in the patient’s mouth! This fact is especially exciting for those who are very sensitive and have a strong gag reflex, as well as for regular patients too. The scanning process is simple and comfortable.

2. Quick – The scanner is very quick and with the click of a button, the information is digitally sent to the computerized lathe for production. This saves time and spares stages of the process involved when using the standard technique.

3. Very precise.

4. Aesthetics – The information from the scanner is digitally sent to the computerized lathe. The lathe can work with advanced materials such as zirconia or reinforced porcelain such as EMAX for any restoration we desire (crown, porcelain laminate, onlay). The restorations are completely non-metallic and the result is aesthetic “all porcelain” crowns that can be created for every tooth in the mouth, anterior or posterior.

5. The scanner can also be incorporated during the planning stages before an implant. The combination of the information provided by the scanner and the CT images helps plan the guiding surgical splints used during the implant, as well as aiding in producing the immediate temporary restoration in advance.

Article about Crowns using Digital Scanning

Article about Porcelain Fillings (Porcelain Onlays)
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