Advance Dental Technology 

The tray is being placed into your mouth. The goopy texture hitting your tongue. Possible gagging. The rubbery taste. The discomfort as your mouth is stretched. The momentary fear that “What if the dentist can’t remove it from your teeth? What if it’s stuck forever?”

Most adults have been through the experience of sitting through a dental mold or impression at some point or another in the past! Fortunately, times are changing and dental technology has vastly improved. At South Charlotte Dentistry, the tray and putty (also known as polyvinyl siloxane (PVS)) impressions are a thing of the past! Say hello to digital impression technology!

Digital impressions have come a long way over the years, replacing the gooey and uncomfortable impressions of the past. The PVS impressions also had increased chances that they may be sent off to the lab only to return and have an incorrect fit. The patient would then have to experience the process all over again. 

With the new digital intraoral scanning system, your dentist and team at South Charlotte Dentistry have more control and increased accuracy with the impression. Patients will experience more comfort, less time with a tray in their mouth, and quicker results. Try our new digital impression scanner at your next dental visit!


Why do dentists make molds?

Impressions or molds of the mouth are made for procedures like implants, crowns, veneers, bridges, retainers, or Invisalign. Impressions are needed to ensure that a new crown, a set of aligners, or your retainers are precisely made to fit your unique mouth. One of the main reasons patients undergo a dental impression is to have a crown or bridge. For broken or cracked teeth, accuracy in the replacement is so important to make your smile complete again! No two sets of teeth are alike, so a dental impression is the best way to create a customized result. Beyond restorative dentistry, dental impressions are also used in prosthodontics and orthodontics.


PVS Impressions: The Old Technology

For many years, dentists had to rely on physical molds to do PVS impressions. You probably had one of those gooey, putty teeth impressions done at your dental office at some point in your life. To get an impression of your teeth, your dentist or a dental assistant would mix the ingredients together to make a type of silicone putty to make a mold of your teeth. The putty was typically blue, purple, or pink, and unflavored, meaning you were tasting the basic silicone or rubber taste.

The putty sets up and hardens quickly, so once the ingredients were mixed together, the tray is placed in your mouth. Once the dental impression was set, which usually took around 5 minutes, the dental professional would remove it from your teeth, which could take a few tries depending on how long the material had hardened.

The dentist would then mail the molds to a laboratory, where your physical impressions would be made along with your needed dental appliance. You would typically need a mold taken for restorative dentistry purposes, cosmetic dentistry purposes, or making appliances for your teeth such as retainers or TMJ guards. The process to receive the mold and appliance back could take several weeks from impression to final product.

Getting an accurate replica of patients’ teeth was one of the biggest problems dentists faced. PVS material has been around for years, but many different impression materials were tried, ranging from plaster, rubber base material, polyether, reversible hydrocolloid, and reversible hydrocolloid. PVS impressions also came with a plethora of potential issues. Anything could go wrong, including:

· Pulls and tears

· Bubbles and voids

· Distortion, tray to tooth contact

· Poor tray bond

· Temperature

· Technique

· Time sensitivity

· Chemistry

· Varying shrink-age

· Stone model pouring

· Die trimming discrepancies

· And more!

Digital scanning replaces conventional materials from PVS impressions, while also helping eliminate patient discomfort, and providing the dentist with a higher degree of accuracy., Many modern dental offices are transitioning to the modern digital alternative to make impressions.


The iTero Scanner makes for easy x-rays and impressions!

While PVS impressions are accurate, digital scanning technology has improved so much in the past few years that digital impressions hold us just as well, and offer a more comfortable experience for patients. Instead of putty, molds, and general discomfort, digital impression technology creates an accurate impression of your teeth by taking a series of digital images.


What’s the process for receiving a digital impression?

After your teeth are cleaned, your dentist will make sure that your teeth are dry from saliva or any other dental work. They will then lightly dust your teeth with a dental powder (typically titanium oxide) so that the digital scan can pinpoint all areas of your teeth. Some systems may not require the use of the dental powder to do the scan – including our iTero scanner technology.

Next, the dentist will place an intraoral wand in your mouth and move alongside the inside of the patient’s teeth. The wand captures digital images of the teeth, their shape, and the shape of the mouth using very safe laser technology. It also captures details regarding your arch, bite, and gums.

The wand is hooked up to a laptop and creates a three-dimensional rendering in real-time by taking thousands of photos per second to create a perfect 3D replica of your mouth. It can also calculate the precise shade of your tooth so that if you need a crown, it can analyze the color of the surrounding teeth and create a perfect match.

The system provides live feedback to the dentist. If any area of the scan lacks information or images, the system will color those areas so that the dentist can continue to scan the wand until all the areas are covered.


If the patient wants to take a break in the middle of the scan, can they?

Absolutely! If a patient feels uncomfortable and needs to take a break during the scanning, it is very easy for the dentist to pause for a few minutes and then restart. Before, patients would have just had to endure keeping the goopy material in their mouth until the impression was set.

The dentist can review the digital images and/or video, and send them to a lab. Rather than taking days or possibly weeks for an impression to arrive in the mail, the lab can typically receive your impression images and get to work on your required appliance right away. Between shipping and the construction of a dental appliance, the PVS impression process would typically take 2 or more weeks. With digital impressions, the time between the images being taken to receiving the final product is cut down to 3 to 5 days. Some impressions can even be made on the same day!


What are the benefits of having a digital scan impression?

· The patient saves time at their appointment (typically saving around 20 minutes when compared to the PVS impression)

· The scanning takes about 3-5 minutes to complete

· There is no prep or cleanup needed for a digital impression

· The patient doesn’t have to withstand any gagging or rubbery putty taste in their mouth

· Because everything is digital, there’s no risk of a mold breaking while being shipped or having to repeat the impression process

· Digital scans can’t get lost in the mail

· Digital scans are more eco-friendly and use fewer materials

· Digital impressions are cheaper

· Digital impressions are quicker than PVS molds

· Dentists have found that the digital impressions are more accurate

· Impressions can be sent to the lab instantly, and appliance construction can start right away

· Digital impressions can be stored electronically, and transferred to other offices if needed for a patient’s records


The iTero scanner at South Charlotte Dentistry

One of the key features of the iTero scanner is that it doesn’t require any sort of powder dusting on your teeth to take the scan. Invisalign patients require a full-arch scan with interproximal detail, a very detailed level of accuracy to measure arch width dimensional stability, and accurate reproduction of the coronal portions of the teeth. The iTero’s powder free technology provides accurate digital impressions of interproximal areas and arch width dimension stability.


The types of digital scanning technologies:


The parallel/confocal scan is what the iTero scanner takes. The iTero scanner uses laser and optical scanning to digitally capture the surface and contours of the teeth – including gingiva. The iTero scanner can capture 100,000 laser light points in perfect focus at 300 focal depths.



The triangulation/sampling technology requires the powder coating on the teeth and applies one angled cone of light to capture a single image at 15,000 microns.


Improved patient experience

The main feedback we receive from using the iTero scanner with our patients is: “no gagging!” Patients report that they appreciate the absence of the bulky trays, unpleasant material taste, and residue, as well as overall discomfort and timing. The iTero digital scanning impression also seems to provide a more accurate fit for aligners and retainers in particular. Patients remark that the iTero aligners and retainers offer a better fit and collect less saliva underneath.

During the scan, communication between patients and the dentist is also enhanced. Digital scans provide an opportunity for the dentist to educate and provide immediate feedback to the patient. The software cleans the images as it forms the 3D model, so patients can understand what they’re looking at. Digital scanning impressions have greatly improved patient acceptance and communication.


Choose accuracy and efficiency with digital scanning technology.

At South Charlotte Dentistry, we have a responsibility to our patients to provide the latest and safest technology in dentistry. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art equipment and training in new dental techniques to give our patients the best dental experience.

Although putty and tray impressions are still being used at many dentists, eventually all dentists will transfer over to digital impressions. Studies are showing that digital impressions tend to have a more accurate fit (an increase in accuracy of around 14%) for dental restorations and for the construction of dental appliances like retainers and TMJ guards. Dentists have reported that they have to retake impressions around 3 times a month, resulting in wasted materials and patient dissatisfaction. Digital impressions are faster for the patient as well as the dental office – and everyone can use extra minutes back in their day!

We know you will prefer digital impressions and the much-improved experience of getting a mold of your teeth with our digital scanning impression technology. With no messy powder, bad taste, or putty residue involved, digital scanning is certain to make your dental visit more pleasant. Contact South Charlotte Dentistry today to learn more about our digital impressions.

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