By Drs. Joe Passaro and Woody Wooddell

In recent years, intraoral scanners have become an invaluable piece of equipment in the dental office. An intraoral scanner is a device that is used to capture a direct digital impression. Intraoral scanners can be applied in various fields of dentistry for diagnosis and for fabricating restorations in restorative dentistry, surgery and orthodontics.

An intraoral scanner can be used to take an impression for fabricating a wide range of prosthetic restorations: inlays/onlays, single crowns and fixed partial dentures. It can capture the 3D position of dental implants and fabricate implant-supported restorations. Implants and bridges can be successfully fabricated from digital impressions.

The impression is captured using an intraoral scanner that is inserted into the patient’s mouth and moved over the surface area of the tooth or teeth. The scanner projects a light source onto the area to be scanned. The images are captured by imaging sensors and are processed by scanning software, which then produces a 3D surface model. There is a chairside monitor to display the image as it is captured. As the clinician reviews the real-time image, he or she can enlarge and manipulate it for enhanced detail. 

The benefits of digital

scanners include:

• Less patient discomfort. Traditional impressions cause discomfort for patients because of the materials and impression trays that are used, often causing a gag reflex. Digital impressions reduce discomfort by eliminating the need for materials and impression trays.

• Time efficiency. With an intraoral scanner, the dentist does not have to pour stone casts and obtaining physical plaster models. The patient’s 3D virtual model can be emailed to the lab without the need to deliver anything via mail. 

• Better communication. The clinician can access the quality of the impression in real-time. If the clinician feels the impression is low quality, he/she can take another impression without having to call the patient back for a second appointment. Also, the 3D images can be shared with the patient who can gain a much clearer understanding of the procedure being done.

Digital scanners have revolutionized impression taking in the dental field and made it a much more comfortable process for patients.

Drs. Joe Passaro and Woody Wooddell opened the doors to their dental practice in Davidsonville, MD in 1981. In addition to caring for their patients’ general dental health, Drs. Wooddell and Passaro provide expert restorative and esthetic dental solutions. Visit their website at or call 410.956.5555 for more information.

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