3D Impressions Mean Faster, Cleaner Impressions


If you’re an adult who has needed a dental crown to fix a tooth, or a retainer to keep your teeth aligned following orthodontic treatment as a teenager, you’re probably familiar with the following routine.

• A dental assistant creates an impression of your teeth by placing a large tray filled with goop that is similar to the consistency of Silly Putty in your mouth.

• Those with a sensitive gag reflex try desperately not to spit out the material.

• After the tray is removed, you’re left to pick tiny bits of the impression material from your mouth
and lips.

Here at Dr. Robert Walley’s office, we traded in that conventional impression method years ago for digital impressions using iTero , an intra-oral digital scanner.

Let’s say you need a porcelain crown. We use iTero’s handheld scanner, which resembles a large pen and captures a 3-D image of your teeth and gums. These images instantly appear on a computer screen. Our computer software suggests the ideal dimensions of the restoration based on the information the scanner captures regarding your damaged tooth’s position, size and shape.

“Our patients love this impression method,” San Francisco dentist Dr. Walley says. “There’s no mess and the appointments go much faster.”

Having the ability to instantly display the captured images on a computer screen for you to see helps us educate you throughout each step of the process.

Seating appointments to secure the restoration in place also tend to be shortened by nearly 25 percent, and return appointments rarely are necessary. These impressions tend to be of better quality the first time around, whereas traditional impressions don’t always come out right and require a return appointment if they must be redone. On the other hand, if a 3D impression doesn’t look right, we know immediately and can retake it during the same visit.

The computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technologies used for this imaging system have been used for the in-office production of ceramic crowns and inlays for about 25 years, according to a USA Today article . But there weren’t many early adopters. Research suggests that even today, only about 10 percent of dentists have implemented it.

“At the end of the day, we are interested in creating better experiences for our patients when they’re in our office,” Dr. Walley says. “This is just another way of accomplishing that.”

Please call us today to schedule an appointment if you need a comprehensive dental exam, you have a crown that needs to be replaced, or if you’re experiencing a dental problem. We are happy to help you keep your smile looking its best.


Smile Consultation: (415) 944-1072
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