It’s Never Too Late

to Make a Great Impression

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Dental impressions—whether traditional or digital—provide the foundation for restorative treatments. Because they form the basis for treatment planning and laboratory fabrication of restorations, accurate impressions benefit the patient, dental professionals, and laboratory technicians in multiple ways. Accurate impressions save chair time at seating, reduce the incidence of remakes, and ultimately contribute to patient satisfaction. Additionally, when taken efficiently and accurately the first time, impression processes that promote patient comfort encourage acceptance of future procedures, as well as potential referrals.

Traditional and digital methods offer unique benefits and challenges when trying to achieve detailed impressions, including capturing the correct margins and obtaining accurate occlusal records. Therefore, successful impression appointments require careful consideration of both individual patient characteristics and the planned restoration. This ensures that the most appropriate impression taking technique(s) are used and common mistakes are avoided.

Download DSG® Digital Impression Comparison Chart.

For example, when faced with a patient with considerable bleeding, traditional impressions are best, since digital impression scanners cannot capture what they can’t see. However, gag reflexes and other patient discomforts can compromise the accuracy and success of traditional impressions—now often referred to as analog impressions.

What’s more, traditional impressions of posterior preparations require an adequate amount of impression material to be placed on the adjacent occlusal surfaces. If an insufficient amount of material is used, the anticipated crown or bridge restoration will likely demonstrate an inaccurate occlusion. The patient will experience an awkward or less-than-natural bite after cementation, which may lead to costly remakes, rather than chairside adjustments.

However, adjusting or realigning an already set impression by adding more impression material in an attempt to correct this mistake often contributes to further discrepancies. Because the entire impression should be remade, the impression taking appointment now becomes longer for the practice and patient, inconvenience and discomfort for the patient are given, and material costs also now increase.

Digital impression systems, however, can potentially save both dental team members and patients approximately 30 minutes per treatment, in addition to helping practices realize other substantial benefits. Digital impression taking eliminates the often traumatic, stressful, time-consuming, and costly impression taking procedures typically associated with traditional materials.

Digital impression systems, however, can potentially save both dental team members and patients approximately 30 minutes per treatment, in addition to helping practices realize other substantial benefits. Digital impression taking eliminates the often traumatic, stressful, time-consuming, and costly impression taking procedures typically associated with traditional materials.

Incidentally, digital impression systems do not require impression materials, trays, shipping, sterilization, or physical storage, so a practice’s overhead costs are reduced. Further, unlike traditional materials that are indicated only for specific impression techniques and/or restorations, digital impression scanners can be used for all types of treatments, including single crowns, bridges, full-arch restorations, veneers, implants, inlays, and onlays.

Because they avoid the soft palate, digital intraoral impression scanners reduce—if not eliminate—patient discomfort and gag reflex. Additionally, by producing instantaneous and more detailed impressions, they also provide an immediate way for dentists and laboratories to visualize and evaluate preparations to ensure a better-quality restorative design. If modifications and subsequent new impressions are needed, those procedures can be performed right then, without the need to recall the patient and subject them to the discomfort of traditional impression taking.

Treatment accuracy and turn-around time—with a reduced need for adjustments or remakes—also improves, since digital impressions demonstrate ideal margin capture and visibility, and can be transferred instantly to dental laboratories, without fear of deformation. As a result of promoting faster—and possibly real-time collaboration with laboratories—overall case management efficiency improves.

Digital impressions do present a few limitations, such as intraoral scanner size, ability to capture only what the scanner can see, and decreased effectiveness when blood, saliva, or contamination are present in the oral cavity. In fact, similar to traditional methods, digital impression taking requires thoroughly dry and properly isolated preparations. Regardless of whether or not a contrast medium is used, saliva can create a reflective area on teeth that can distort the digital impression.

Download DSG® DI White Paper.
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