Well, it is January 1st, 2018 and I am waiting to watch some football and get back to work this week. I have always enjoyed straightening teeth, or as I say “Tooth Rasslin” but this year has me extra excited. Here is my infomercial!
One of the most stressful procedures, for both patient and staff, is the gooey alginate impression! I have had some patients actually delay treatment because they were scared of the impressions. I have had gaggers….well, gag and then some!
Starting now, those days are over! Over the last couple of months I have been working very hard researching and evaluating digital impressions and 3D printing. The technology has always intrigued me but for one reason or another it just hasn’t made sense. Finally, the technology has become advanced, affordable, and practical for everyday use.
What does all this mean? A lot! Instead of making gooey impressions, we scan the mouth with an incredibly accurate intra oral camera. The scan is a highly accurate, 3D digital picture of your teeth. No goop, no radiation, just a very, very good selfie!
Ok great, no more impressions. What else? Glad you asked. Combining this technology with a 3D printer allows us to instantly print out a resin model to fabricate Orthodontic appliances like retainers and aligners. I have found these models to be more accurate than traditional alginate impressions. Lets say you lose a retainer. All you have to do is call and because we have a scan of your teeth on file, we can have the retainer ready when you arrive. So long as teeth haven’t shifted…..and they haven’t because everyone always wears their retainers, the retainer will fit just like the original!
But wait there is more! No, it isn’t free shipping. Lets say say your teeth have shifted a little be-cause you lost your retainer a long time ago. In the old days we had some options. Braces again. Thats not fun. Invisalign? Expensive. What can we do?
The third piece to the puzzle. Software! We are now capable of importing the digital scan into software that allows me to move the teeth and print out clear Aligners (like Invisalign) at a fraction of the cost of traditional Aligners. We can have the Aligners ready in days, not weeks. This is really a game changer. I love Aligners, but I have always hated the high cost. It has been hard for me to justify thousands of dollars in cost (due to the large lab fee) to move a couple of teeth a few millimeters.
This new technology will allow us treat patients with clear aligners much more efficiently and at an affordable price. It will also take some stress out of making a good first impression!
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful 2018!