Intraoral Scanning & Digital Dentistry: iTero Elements 2
What is intraoral scanning? What is it used for? Why would I want my teeth to be scanned?
Here’s an in-depth guide to intraoral scanning & digital dentistry in Singapore.
How is it used with Invisalign and other treatments?
Orthodontics and restorative dentistry have evolved since the days of taking putty impressions of the mouth. Your dentist can now build an accurate model of your mouth, without the need to take impressions, which could be uncomfortable and time-consuming.
Intraoral scanning has given us the ability to make the process of modelling your teeth fast and easy. It also allows us to create a model of your expected progress when undertaking a teeth-straightening plan, such as Invisalign treatment.
At No Frills Dental we are using the iTero Elements 2 to take those intraoral scans. These scans are used to prepare clients for both Invisalign treatment, and also restorative treatments such as dental implants.
Here we will explain how this area of digital dentistry works, and how it could help you too.
Benefits of Intraoral Scanning
If you have ever sat in the dentist’s chair to give a putty impression of your mouth, then you know the feeling of needing to sneeze or swallow but trying not to move. The old way of creating a model of your teeth was to use 2 trays of putty, 1 for your upper and 1 for your lower rows of teeth.
You would bite down on the putty and then stay as still as you could manage while the impressions were taken.
While in reality taking putty impressions isn’t a long process, it felt long for the patients sitting in the chair. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and sometimes the first round of moulds didn’t take well. After being sent off to the lab, the moulds that didn’t take well would be rejected. This would leave the patient needing to repeat the process, and then wait again for the new moulds to be accepted.
This often delayed the orthodontic or restorative treatment that the patient was waiting for.
Intraoral Scanning improved the process
With intraoral scanning, we can see a 3D model of the teeth almost instantly. There is no need for uncomfortable sessions in the dentist’s chair with putty trays. There is also no frustrating wait for the results, only to be told that your impressions need to be retaken.
Intraoral scanning makes the whole process quicker, cleaner, and truly comfortable.
What is iTero Elements 2?
Elements 2 is the latest model from iTero, a company who quickly modernised the process of dental imaging in 2007 with their first machine. Since the original iTero Element intraoral scanner, the Elements 2 model has made this experience faster still.
The iTero scanners work by capturing thousands of image frames per second, via a small wand that is moved around the patient’s mouth. No putty, no trays, and no uncomfortable waiting.
There were other intraoral scanners on the market before iTero, but they were generally larger. The small wand on the iTero scanners allows it to reach right to the back molars, giving greater detail and a full picture of the whole mouth. The scanner wand uses a radiation-free laser, rendering a perfect, digital 3D impression of your whole mouth.
Older scanners also needed the patient’s teeth to be coated in titanium oxide powder, in order for them to pick up the images clearly. iTero works without this, so there is no discomfort for the patient at all.
The scan images come through in real time, so the images can be viewed straight away. This means you and your dentist can begin discussing your treatment immediately.
iTero Elements 2 and Invisalign
As you may know, Invisalign treatment is a system of clear aligners that move your teeth into the best position, giving you a better smile. Invisalign is popular as the aligners are almost invisible and comfortable to wear, with no wires or brackets.
When it comes to planning your Invisalign treatment, that model from the intraoral scan is the starting point. Invisalign has its own software that your orthodontist accesses to begin planning your treatment. The iTero software integrates with this, so seeing your predicted Invisalign outcome is quick and easy. Your scans appear on the monitor screen in front of you within just a few minutes.
The scans are also highly accurate, leading to a greater success rate with the Invisalign retainers fitting the first time. This gives patients a great confidence boost, as they can visualise the plan and know how their treatment will progress over time.
The iTero software is also accessed by the laboratory who makes your Invisalign retainers, so the whole process is smooth and fast. Your scan can be viewed by the laboratory within 90 minutes, and sometimes as quickly as 10 minutes after your scan appointment is complete.
Other uses for iTero Elements 2
Intraoral scanning isn’t only used for Invisalign, but for many restorative dental procedures too. Formerly, having a dental bridge, crowns or implants may have required you to give an impression using the putty trays so your dentist could assess the structure of your teeth. It may also have required a deeper, exploratory incision to see how your implant should be placed.
Today we can take all the information we need about the structure of your teeth using a scanner like the iTero Elements 2. This not only removes the need for putty, but for those exploratory incisions too. So overall, this digital approach can improve healing time and even reduce post-procedure pain.
Much like with Invisalign, your iTero scan means your dentist is much quicker to obtain the results. Having a clear 3D model of your teeth on the iTero scanner’s screen allows your dentist to get straight into discussing your treatment plan with you. So again, this saves on waiting time.
Studies show that intraoral scanning for restorative dentistry is a reliable and accurate approach to getting the prosthesis fit right the first time. This is great news for patients.
What does it cost?
If you decide to book an Invisalign consultation, then your iTero Elements 2 scan is included in the $50 consultation fee. This fee is waived if you proceed with treatment.
This pricing works in a similar way for dental implants, or other restorative dentistry procedures. We will include the scan within the initial consultation fee, because it is an important part of the process.
Taking a clear 3D scan with the iTero Elements 2 gives us the best starting point to begin your treatment plan from, so we always recommend it.
So what’s next?
If you have been thinking about starting Invisalign treatment, then now you know how the initial impressions of your mouth are generated. You also know how your progress is measured against the predicted outcome. When you come in for your initial consultation, you will be able to see how your teeth will move over the timeline your dentist plans for you.
Or you might be thinking about having restorative dentistry, such as implants, a bridge or crowns. In which case, you now know how your dentist can use intraoral scanning to make an accurate assessment easily, without any discomfort for you.
The use of intraoral scanning can reduce procedure time by removing the need for deep, exploratory incisions, and therefore may reduce recovery time too.
Please feel free to call and talk through the options with us, or fill in the contact form on this page. We are always happy to advise you, and you should feel comfortable making your decision. Both Invisalign treatment, and restorative procedures are long-term investments in your oral health. Choosing to proceed is a big decision.
The best dentist for you is one who will provide you with all the information, and help you to reach a well-informed decision that you are comfortable with. Good communication between you and your dentist is vital for a successful outcome.
In addition, please only proceed with the treatment if you are fully comfortable with the treatment plan proposed by your provider.
- 123 Dentist
- Brace Place
- Dental Economics
- Lee et al, 2014. Use of an Intraoral Laser Scanner During the Prosthetic Phase of Implant Dentistry: A Pilot Study. Journal of Oral Implantology.
- North Atlanta Aesthetic Dentistry
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