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Top 10 Questions Dentists Ask About Digital Scanners

From:ads dental lab    time:2016-9-24 22:49:16

We attend many meetings a year and are blessed to work with hundreds of clients that we call personal friends from all over the world. EVERY day, a dentist asks us all kinds of questions about digital scanners. “How does this all work?” and more importantly, “What is the big deal?”
We decided to make a list of the top 10 things that we are asked about scanners but had to go to 12! It is our intent to share this information to shed some light on what we have learned. We also want to express our own personal experience and that of our clients. This is a real world testimonial and we don’t get paid by any companies to promote them.
Digital technology is growing substantially every month in our laboratory. However, nothing beats a handmade restoration. We feel we have merged the two and have a winner on our hands.
As things stand now, the large majority of our clients have NOT yet embraced digital impression taking for many reasons. The general consensus, in our opinion, is that most haven’t made the jump to digital due to lack of fully understanding what these systems can do for you, your TEAM, your patients, and your bottom line…..your ROI.
Those that have scanners in the office are overwhelmingly passionate about the big advantages and happy they made the decision to “go digital.” No one we work with has returned a scanner and many of our clients are “NEW” clients to us because of our ability to process cases digitally in a rapid cost effective manner. We have the digital flow worked out!!!
If you were to type in a Google search for “digital scanning dental,” you would see that this technology has revolutionized the entire dental industry. There is no need to go into that…as it seems half the articles written in dental journals now are something about “digital.”
Lets get to the list of the top things we are asked and our answers:

Why is everyone talking about, and using, digital intraoral scanners?
“SPEED and ACCURACY” It takes 5 minutes, or less, to scan a patient’s prep or implant, opposing arch, and bite. There is no impression material used. There is no sitting around waiting for the impression material to set up. There is no looking at your watch. ALL patients universally love it. No one is allergic to “digital!” There are no retaking impressions. In some cases, there is no need for powder, and in most cases, the scans are in color, so they look cool.  The digital workflow and stellar communication benefits between the lab and the clinician are heightened.

Can I do implants?
Williams Dental Laboratory offers free digital scan bodies for 34 different implant systems.  Just call us and let us know what you need. By combining digital impressions and CBCT scans with our software, we can truly evaluate the exact clinical situation, bone density, and nerve positioning in relation to tooth structure. Surgical guides are created with our 3D printers.

Is it worth the money?
“THE BOTTOM LINE” There are no impressions or material storage. There is no dealing with UPS or FED-EX. There is no sterilization and less chair time. There is no team packaging a case and mailing it to the lab. It is a BIG COOL FACTOR for patients…..they LOVE IT. Some of our clients have claimed that their internal marketing has been enhanced and their practices have grown due to digital impressions because patients talk to friends.

Are intraoral scanners accurate?
Studies have documented that digital impressions (scans) improve clinical results and reduce the need for restoration adjustments and remakes. Williams experience has been the same! Another benefit is that a 3D printed model from Williams creates just as accurate a result as a PV impression.

Does it speed up case handling?
“I used to wait 3 weeks for a crown to come back from my lab. Now I get it back in 3 days.” That was a quote from a new client of ours. Depending on your workflow set-up, you can have a crown back in your office within 24 hours. The time savings are undeniable.

Can I scan a full mouth or a large restorative case?
You can accomplish both in 5 minutes or less! We have videos of clients showing new team members that can scan an arch in minutes. Most scanners have unique features that allow you to start and stop the scan at any point; are intuitive; and the scanner will let you pick up where you left off in the mouth when you start scanning again. All of the data is correlated to points of the scan, so it’s simple.    In particular, this is VERY nice for patients with limited opening, a gag reflex issue, or those that have orthodontic brackets and wires.

How easy is it to work with for orthodontics and nighttime appliances, like nightguards and orthotics?
Digital is a HUGE game changer in this arena. Clearly, the obvious elimination of a need for model storage because you aren’t taking a standard impression and storing a stone model is a major plus. The orthodontist can just call us at the lab and give us the patient’s name. We pull the STL file and print the model on our 3D printer.   Our orthodontic software enables us to plan; simulate; and manage patient care, as well as, create orthodontic appliances using CAD CAM equipment. The dentist can show the patient and his/her parents on a large color monitor what the exact treatment will look like via a digital scan and what the final results will be aesthetically. This all can happen with the patient at their initial consult appointment and, in most cases; this is done in 3D and in color

Big question – “What is the learning curve and time frame?”
The best way to answer this is to have the person asking this question hold a scanner and start scanning a model or a patient. It is much like an iPhone. It just takes a short period of time and you will have it down. The more you use it, the more you become efficient at it. Our non-scientific survey shows that the more you use it, the more you will want to use it on EVERYTHING.   Basically, if you have a scanner, YOU LOVE IT and will quickly become part of your daily routine. Your team will love it, and they will be happier. You’d never want to imagine a day without it.

What kind of support do I get after purchase?
Every company that makes and sells scanners is very motivated to have happy clients. If word gets out that one isn’t user friendly or their customer support is lacking, it will devastate the company. We can confidently say the top 6 scanners on the market today are: 3M tru def, Trios (3shape) , E4d, (Planscan) Sirona, Carestream, and Itero all are good companies with very good products. Training by certified trainers is critical and online courses and a lab that understands what to do with the STL files generated by the scanner is CRITICAL. The lab MUST know how to handle the file and have specific software designed to deal with the data and print a 3D model.

Why is an open system so important?
NOT all scanners are supported by an open system…some don’t play nice! As a dentist, your future business potential is in someone else’s hands if you purchase a closed system. We don’t suggest it. It is up to you to purchase any system you want, but be aware this is the fastest growing and changing part of dentistry. An open system just makes sense. With an open system, the natural selection process moves forward, and your system automatically gets better and better as the months go by. We vote a strong YES on open systems.

Have you ever dealt with a dentist that hated their scanner, and why?
In the past, it was common for the scanners to make both team and doctors frustrated for many reasons. The primarily difficulty in gathering accurate data, large wands, labs had no idea how to deal with the STL file data. Basically, they were a HUGE waste of time for some. If you find yourself in this boat, please call me (Bob Clark at 800-713-5390). What I have found is that in 3 simple steps, I can help you love your scanner.

Is a digitally 3D printed model as accurate as a milled model and-or a polyvinyl impression?
I added this one in because it is a BIG controversy right now. The controversy is fueled by companies that have something to benefit or lose if their side doesn’t win this battle. Our experience with this on MANY restorations has been, YES, the 3D printed models we make are AS accurate if not more accurate than any PV impression, and always more accurate than a milled model. How do we know this and how can we prove this? We are blessed to have 10 clients worldwide that have scanners of different varieties, and they helped us conduct a 6-month long study.


1 – They scanned their patients and sent the STL file to Williams Lab, and we printed a 3D model.

2 – They, also, took a PV impression of the same patient. We, then, fabricated the 3D model digitally, and did the conventional model work with liquid-powder measured die stone.

3 – If the specific scanner system only offered a milled model, we would Mill one and also 3D print a model

THE REULTS: The raw STL file of the intraoral scan was more accurate than both the PV impression model and the milled model.

I am basing this on my judgement of having happy clients, and their results with VERY fast seat times (minimal to no adjustments) of final restorations and digital x-ray evaluations of the cases.

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