Digital dental impressions can improve your overall treatment outcomes and increase the efficiency of your practice’s workflows.
Digital technology is revolutionising the dental profession in Australia. An intraoral dental scanner, for example, enables dental practices to shift from traditional physical impressions to digital impressions.
This comes with some important benefits. Digital dental impression advantages include enhanced accuracy, aesthetic predictability, and better patient communication. The result is better treatment outcomes, improved workflow efficiencies, and increased cost effectiveness.
But a digital dental impression benefits not only the practice, but the patient too. Digital impressions improve patient comfort, significantly reduce the need for inconvenient remakes, and give patients more insight into the proposed treatment.
Here are five digital dental impression benefits and how they could transform your practice:
1. Better treatment outcomes
Using a dental scanner can help dentists deliver better treatment outcomes. Digital scans are the backbone of digital dentistry. Dentists can visualise and manipulate digital models to provide more accurate, individualised treatment plans with a high degree of aesthetic predictability.
- Enhanced accuracy: Principal among the many digital dental impression advantages is enhanced accuracy. Digital impressions typically provide more accurate results than traditional physical impressions. This comes down to the use of intraoral scanners. A digital dental scanner captures precise measurements and intricate details of the oral cavity. This translates into improved fit and function of dental restorations.
- Individualised treatment planning: Digital dentistry enables dentists to visualise and manipulate digital models for accurate assessment and analysis of the patient’s oral condition. This enables dentists to develop comprehensive and individualised treatment plans that are tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
- Aesthetic predictability: Dentists can simulate the final outcome with digital models and make subsequent adjustments to achieve the desired aesthetic result. This enhances aesthetic predictability and ensures patient satisfaction with the final restorations.
- Leveraging dental labs: A digital dental impression seamlessly integrates into digital workflows, including CAD/CAM systems and 3D printing technologies. This integration enables dental labs to deliver all the advantages of digital dentistry to dental practices and their patients. This includes faster production times, higher quality, and the ability to produce complex designs for better overall treatment outcomes.
- More treatment options: Digital workflows can help dental practices to expand their treatment options and give patients more choice. Digital scanners are used frequently for a wide range of restoration, cosmetic and orthodontic treatments – including crowns, bridges, inlays and onlays, veneers, implant-supported prosthetics, orthodontic aligners, and removable dentures.
2. Superior patient experience
Better treatment outcomes obviously help to improve patient satisfaction. However, digital impressions can also help dentists deliver superior patient experiences. They can contribute to a more positive and patient-centred dental experience, which fosters patient satisfaction and improves their experience at your practice.
- Improved patient comfort: Digital impressions eliminate the need for uncomfortable and messy physical impression materials like dental putty. With digital scans, patients do not have to endure the discomfort of having trays filled with impression material in their mouths. This can enhance overall patient comfort during the impression-taking process, and may reduce anxiety for some patients.
- Better patient communication: Dentists can use chairside monitors to display digital models and treatment plans to help patients understand the current state of their oral health, and the proposed treatment options. This visual representation promotes informed decision-making, and encourages patients to take a more active role in their treatment.
- Less need for retakes: Physical impressions can sometimes result in distortions or inaccuracies, which leads to the need for retakes. This can create inconvenience for patients, and subtract from their overall experience. Taking a digital dental impression largely solves this problem with typically far less need for retakes. This saves time and annoyance for both patients and dental professionals.
- Shorter appointment times: The digital scanning process is typically faster than taking traditional physical impressions. This can help to reduce overall appointment times and ensure patients are spending less time in your chair. And less time spent at the dentist is a plus for busy patients, and those who experience anxiety during long dental procedures.
3. Improved workflow efficiency
Digital impressions enable a more streamlined workflow in dental practices. Scanned impressions can be instantly shared electronically with dental labs or specialists, and can be analysed and digitally stored for fast and easy reference. This not only leads to shorter appointment times, but also helps to reduce turnaround times for restoration design and manufacture.
- Integration with CAD/CAM technology: Digital impressions seamlessly integrate with computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. This enables dental labs to quickly and efficiently design and manufacture a wide range of restorations – including crowns, bridges, and aligners – to precise specifications.
- Enhanced collaboration: Digital workflows support seamless communication between dental practices and dental labs. The two-way sharing of treatment plans and restoration designs enables efficient collaboration between dentists and dental labs. For example, at Avant Dental, dentists can review digital models online in our real-time virtual lab.
- Simultaneous workflows: Switching to digital impressions also opens the opportunity to make further efficiency gains with simultaneous workflows. For example, dentists can take and instantly upload digital scans for dental labs to access. This means dentists can work on treatment plans while the lab begins work on the digital model to reduce the treatment timeline.
- Digital storage: Digital impressions eliminate the need to physically store bulky stone models, and can be safely backed up and digitally stored offsite. A digital dental impression can also be almost instantly retrieved by your dental lab. This saves significant time when ordering replacement splints and mouthguards for patients, and for aligner treatments.
- Instant delivery: As dental scans are instantly uploaded into a central software platform, there is no need to ship physical impressions to your dental lab. This can shave days off the time it takes from the moment you make the impression to when the restoration arrives at your practice from your lab. It also eliminates the risk of physical impressions being damaged or delayed in transit.
4. Superior cost effectiveness
There are several ways dental practices can reduce costs by replacing traditional physical impressions with digital impressions. While dentists will need to account for the initial up-front investment in an intraoral scanner, the ongoing cost savings made on eliminating consumables, reducing costs associated with remakes, and reducing time spent on taking impressions can all result in significant cost savings over time.
- Time efficiency: The efficiency gains discussed above obviously come with cost savings. Shorter appointment times, simultaneous workflows, and reduced overall treatment timelines typically mean less chairtime per patient, which creates an opportunity to increase your patient load.
- Reduced overheads: After making the initial investment in an intraoral scanner, digital scanning requires far fewer consumables than traditional physical impressions. Ongoing cost savings can be made on impression materials. Physical storage space required for traditional impressions may also be repurposed.
- Fewer remakes: The precise accuracy of digital scans drastically reduces the need for remakes. This reduces any costs your dental lab may apply to remakes, and reduces lost revenue associated with offering free remake appointments for patients.
- Lower labour costs: As it typically takes less time to complete a digital scan than to make a physical impression, dentists and dental assistants can save significant time over the course of a typical day. This time can be redirected into other areas, or the practice may be able to save labour costs if fewer dental assistants are required.
5. Minimal barriers to entry
While you’ll need to invest in an intraoral scanner to transition to digital impressions, the barriers to entry are typically minimal. Setup and training is usually quite straightforward, and the scanning software is designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
- Straightforward setup: Most intraoral dental scanners can be easily set up by the dentist or dental assistants. Most manufacturers provide simple step-by-step installation instructions, and many are designed for easy plug-and-play setup. Intraoral scanners often require calibration, which typically involves aligning the scanner’s sensors or cameras to ensure accurate measurements and imaging. Most manufacturers also provide calibration procedures, which are typically straightforward and guided by the software.
- Simple training: Most modern intraoral scanners are designed to be user-friendly, which makes the learning process relatively straightforward. Menus and navigation tend to be intuitive, and many are designed to guide users through the scanning process step by step. And most scanner manufacturers tend to provide training resources, such as instructional videos, user manuals, and online tutorials. Some intraoral scanners also feature practice or simulation modes.
- Manufacturer support: Many intraoral dental scanner manufacturers also provide ongoing support. This often includes regular software updates that may improve functionality. Some manufacturers also provide customer service and/or tech support phone services, and in-person tech support may be available in some cases.
- Market choice: While intraoral scanners do typically require an up-front investment, there is a wide range of price points available to suit most budgets. Simple intraoral scanners with basic features offer an affordable entry into the market for small or developing dental practices, while more sophisticated scanners can support the largest, busiest clinics.
- Dental lab compatibility: While we can’t speak for all dental labs, Avant is compatible with all major and minor intraoral scanning systems. This ensures a seamless interface between your scanning software and our virtual lab.
Want to learn more about digital impressions and find the right intraoral scanner for your practice?
Read our Ultimate Guide to Digital Dentistry and our intraoral scanner comparison.
Want to find out more about how Avant can support your transition to digital dentistry?
Please email [email protected] or phone 1800 287 336