Dental Hygienist

Benefits of Digital Impressions for Orthodontics & Braces

February 11, 2022

For some patients, the most uncomfortable part of dental work happens before the actual procedure. The process of taking traditional dental impressions is never pleasant and can be particularly traumatic for those who experience dental anxiety or have a gag reflex.

Though dental impressions aren’t necessary for all procedures, they are needed for those that entail tooth structures or appliances to be fitted in your mouth. Common procedures that require dental impressions include:

  • Dental crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Bridges
  • Mouth appliances
  • Dentures
  • Certain orthodontics

Traditional impressions use trays commonly filled with alginate, a putty-like material made from seaweed. For the impression to set, the trays must remain in the patient’s mouth for two to three minutes. Once removed, the material hardens to create a mold of the teeth. Though the material isn’t harmful, the experience can be uncomfortable, triggering a gag reflex in some patients that can interfere with the impression’s accuracy.

Fortunately, advances in technology have brought us digital impressions. Unlike traditional dental impressions, digital impressions use a small wand, known as an intraoral scanner, to capture detailed photos and measurements. This information is fed into a computer system that transforms the data into a precise three-dimensional replica of your mouth.

Here are three ways digital impressions surpass traditional tray impressions:

1) More Detail - Digital impressions provide greater detail and accuracy, so treatment can be fine-tuned for each tooth as needed. Traditional impressions are subject to defects created by the putty, the trays, or even slight movement while the impression is being made. In addition, human error during the finishing process when impressions are trimmed can also impact the final outcome. Because orthodontic treatment relies on accuracy and precision, even a minor defect in your impressions can affect your treatment and results.

2) Greater Comfort – There’s just no way to mask the discomfort caused by the hard trays and gooey putty used in traditional impressions. Because the trays need to include all your teeth, they must extend back toward your throat. Even if you’re not prone to gagging, the size of the trays makes the process difficult. Plus, the trays need to stay in place for two to three minutes in order for the putty to hold its shape. Conversely, the intraoral scanner takes just a few moments to capture thousands of detailed images of your teeth, jaws, and palate. And the wand’s compact size makes it much more comfortable than the bulky trays of putty used with traditional impressions.

3) Faster Turnaround - Taking digital impressions is faster and more convenient than using traditional trays. Not only do digital impressions mean less time in the dentist’s chair, but they also have shorter turnaround times because digital files don’t need to be disinfected or taken to a lab. So, your actual treatment can start sooner, whether it’s a crown, implants, or any procedure in between.

Contact our Practice

Our dental team is committed to providing the highest quality dental care and best patient experience possible, and digital impressions are just one more way we do that. To learn more about digital impressions, contact our office.

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