July 1, 2015
by Mark Leishman, BMedSc, DDS
1You have been using an intra-oral scanner in your practice for more than a year. Can you tell us what your reasons were for investing in this new technology?
Dr. Leishman: I felt it was time to upgrade to a digital impression system to streamline my workflow with dental laboratories and improve my clinical efficiency. I was looking for an intra-oral scanning system with the ability to create a variety of restorations and appliances, saving me from having to pour up stone models, or physically mail things back and forth from the dental lab as much. There are inaccuracies that have the possibility of being introduced with conventional impressions and bite registrations, namely distortion and setting expansion.
I believe if done properly, digital impressions minimize these inaccuracies. I also invested in this technology to integrate it with other technology present in the office, such as digital intra-oral X-ray sensors, intra-oral cameras, and cone beam computed tomography, so all areas of clinical practice would be as modern and patient-friendly as possible.
2How did you choose the 3M™ True Definition scanner amongst the other devices on the market?
Dr. Leishman: After seeing, and subsequently trying the 3M™ True Definition scanner on the exhibit floor of a trade show I attended, I decided that this was the system that would best meet by needs and integrate well into our office. I tested a few different systems at trade shows and decided my needs would be best met by an open system with STL files, allowing me to enjoy maximum flexibility in producing models, appliances and restorations. I also had a preference for video capture, as opposed to multiple still images stitched together, as several other systems utilize. The 3M™ True Definition scanner is compatible with several different chairside mills, should an office choose to add this to the system. After researching various systems, my decision was based on accuracy and the one that felt the most like a handpiece. The wand used for capturing is much smaller, lighter and easy to maneuver. I also find it favourable that the scanner is qualified for use with Invisalign.
3What are the benefits of the addition of this digital scanner to your office?
Dr. Leishman: The scanner has provided new possibilities in regards to impressions. I enjoy being able to show patients the 3D model on the touch screen and that I’m able to check the scan to be sure the margins are visible with adequate clearance. Since introducing the scanner to my practice, I have not had to send a single restoration back to the laboratory to be remade. The level of accuracy has exceeded my expectations, reducing time at cementation and insertion. I have saved chair time (and staff time) by not having to pour up conventional impressions and trim stone models. There is less turnaround time, specifically with Invisalign, from the time scans of both arches are done, and prescriptions are sent to Align Technologies. Currently, I have ClinCheck setups ready within a matter of hours, rather than days, as it was previously when I had to mail PVS impressions away to be digitized. I have used the scanner for a wide variety of application, including many varieties of crowns, bridges, veneers, space maintainers, cast metal removable partial dentures, orthodontic aligners, retainers, splints, both fixed and removable orthodontic appliances, study models, and in conjunction with implants. Essentially, anything you would take conventional impressions for, you can use the digital scanner for.
4How do you think digital dentistry impacts with patient experience?
Dr. Leishman: I believe that patients truly appreciate the digital experience because of being able to see and rotate their scans on the touch screen. The patients understand that this technology assists me in providing them with the best possible restoration or appliance. The wand with the 3M™ True Definition scanner is less obtrusive and is tolerated easily by patients with a strong gag response. I always smile at the end of a crown or bridge appointment when the patient asks if we still have to put the clay in their mouth, and I’m able to simply tell them “no”.
5What were the challenges you encountered during the implantation of the 3M™ True Definition scanner in your practice?
Dr. Leishman: It took me a bit of practice to achieve adequate moisture control. It is very useful to have a dental assistant during the scan to help ensure the teeth remain dry during capture. By using dry angles in conjunction with a lip and cheek retractor (my preference is currently OptraGate by Ivoclar), saliva contamination of the teeth being scanned has become less of an issue. The newest generation wand and latest software version have improved the ease and rate of capture. The wand is now tapered and shaped such that capturing the distal of terminal molars is easier than it was previously, as patients had to have the ability to open wider than they do now. Patients with very small mouths can accommodate the wand, and I have used the system with children as young as five. As with anything after practicing, my initial scan times have decreased. At first, I found it necessary to give myself a little extra time for scans with multiple units, but after several patients, I have found that the time required to produce a scan is now less than what it was previously for conventional impressions. After implementing the system, I found myself with excess supplies, such as PVS impression and bite registration material, alginate, and stone.
6What advice would you give to any colleague who is looking at introducing digital dentistry to his practice?
Dr. Leishman: Advice I would suggest is to seriously consider adding digital impressions to your practice armamentarium. It will likely be a significant change from the method to take impressions taught to you in dental school, but I think it will be a change for the better. Consider the needs of your practice and what you are willing to invest with respect to finances and the time to research and learn how to use a new system. Try out the various digital impression systems at trade shows, or arrange for sales representatives to demonstrate, in order to see for yourself how the different brands compare to each other. After researching and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each, you will get a better idea of what your preferences are.
7How would you describe your experience with 3M and the implementation of their scanner into your practice?
Dr. Leishman: The representatives that I’ve been working with have been very helpful in implementing this technology into our practice. They have travelled to our office several times to demonstrate, train, and certify us to be able to provide full arch scanning to our patients. From set-up and installation of the scanner, to provision of customer support, I’m impressed with the professionalism demonstrated by the individuals I have interacted with from 3M. The trainers are proficient using the scanner, providing tips to achieve adequate moisture control and improve scanning efficiency, because they have hands-on experience scanning themselves. The technical support staff has been promptly responsive and helpful in assisting with questions and resolving perceived workflow issues.OH
Dr. Leishman graduated from the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 2007. Since then he has maintained a full-time private practice as a general dentist in Pincher Creek, AB.
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