The traditional methods of diagnosing and modeling teeth are giving way to new ways based on 3D scanning and 3D printing. In this article, you will learn what 3D dental scanning is, how it is performed, and what its benefits are for clinicians and patients.
Best Intraoral 3D Scanners: Introduction
3D dental imaging is slowly but surely becoming the new treatment standard in dental practice. 3D dental scanning allows dentists to digitally reconstruct your teeth and skull bones in 3D. The professionals can then interact with the 3D model and visualize hard-to-reach areas.
How Dental 3D Scanning Works
Intraoral 3D scanners (IOS) are devices used to create digital impressions of your teeth or jaws in dentistry. Like other optical 3D scanners, these devices project light onto the object being scanned, receive the reflected light signal, and transmit it to a computer to create a 3D image. Using an intraoral scanner is a convenient solution for both the dentist and the patient.
Images of dental tissues and implants taken by image sensors are processed by special software that creates point clouds. These point clouds are processed by the scanner software to produce 3D surface models. The dentist then receives the digital model, which is more comfortable to work with than traditional plaster models. Depending on the requirements, the dental model can then be 3D printer to obtain a physical copy.
Use of Intraoral 3D Scanners
Intraoral 3D dental scanners are used in various areas of dentistry to diagnose and create 3D models that are used in restorations. They are also use in the manufacture of implants and non-standard auxiliary devices in prosthetics, surgery and orthodontics.
Models from the implant library are overlaid on a 3D scanned image and can be edited for maximum compatibility within minutes before being sent to production.
These models can be useful for impressions of natural teeth. They are also useful for a wide range of prosthetic restorations: resin inlays/onlays, zirconia, lithium disilicate or zirconia single-ceramic and all-ceramic crowns, as well as bridges and fixed dentures.
Studies show that the marginal clearance of ceramic single crowns obtained by intraoral scanning is more accurate than that of crowns obtained by conventional impressions. This digital technology can also be applied to other dental applications, such as replacing obsolete veneers with all-ceramics.
Although intraoral 3D scanning is a technological breakthrough in the field of dentistry, there are physical limitations in its application. IOS is most effective when used in conjunction with other 3D diagnostic imaging modalities such as CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) and laboratory 3D scanners.
By combining these technologies, a series of images obtained using different techniques are stitched together into a single three-dimensional model. As a result, it is possible to create an object suitable for the patient.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Intraoral 3D Scanners
The main advantage of intraoral 3D scanners is the ability to directly obtain a complete 3D model of the patient’s dental arch without having to use conventional physical impressions. The traditional procedure for taking physical impressions causes short-term discomfort to the patient becuase of the materials placed in the oral cavity on the impression trays.
Some patients (for example, patients with a strong gag reflex or children) do not tolerate the classic procedure – 3D scanning is much preferable for them, although it takes a little longer than biting on the plastic mass.
Recent technological advances in IOS allow a full arc scan to be completed in less than 2-3 minutes. This is significantly less time than it takes to create a plaster cast from an impression. In addition, 3D patient models can be sent electronically directly to a crown or prosthesis lab without the need to send anything by courier or regular mail. 3D scanned files can be directly imported into CAD and CAD software.
Another advantage of intraoral 3D scanners is that they simplify the procedure for fitting products in difficult cases, for example, with multiple implants or serious damage. If the doctor is not satisfied with some details of the optical impression, he can remove or change them without having to repeat the entire procedure.
With IOS, the doctor and dental technician can evaluate the quality of the print in real time. In fact, immediately after the scan has been performed, the dentist can email the result to the lab for a technician to evaluate it. If the dental technician is not sure about the quality of the obtained optical impression, he can immediately ask the doctor to perform another scan. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the interaction between the dentist and the dental technician.
Intraoral 3D scanning is a great tool for improving doctor-patient communication. In the process of making optical impressions, patients are involved in the treatment and more effective communication can be established with them. This emotional involvement can have a positive impact on overall care, for example by improving patient compliance with oral hygiene. In addition, IOS are a powerful marketing tool. Patients are interested in the technology they use and tell their friends and acquaintances about it. This increases attention to dental centers equipped with these modern devices.
The disadvantages of intraoral 3D scanning include the difficulty in recognizing poorly visible places. For example, in some cases, when it is important for the doctor to position the edges of the prosthesis subgingivally, it may be more difficult for the light to correctly determine the entire exact line. Unlike conventional impression materials, light cannot physically separate the gum and, therefore, cannot scan “invisible” areas. Similar problems can arise in the event of bleeding, since the blood can obscure the edges of the prosthesis.
Despite this, with due care, appropriate measures for preparation, selection of the line and prevention of bleeding, the doctor can make a good optical impression even under difficult conditions.
If you are shopping for an intraoral 3D scanner model, keep in mind the use of “closed” systems that produce results only in a proprietary file format. Although rare, some hardware manufacturers may still require an annual or monthly fee to “unlock” files for use in any software or any laboratory.
Manufacturers and Novelties
The International Dental Exhibition (IDS), held in March 2019 in Cologne, Germany, showed a huge amount of new equipment and software for digital dentistry. This is the largest dental show in the world, where the world’s leading equipment manufacturers present their latest achievements. The exhibition has been held every two years since 1923.
During IDS 2019, it became clear how quickly dentistry is changing. CAD/CAM is developing rapidly, the market is constantly growing in terms of the number of 3D printers, milling machines, materials and, of course, intraoral scanners. One cannot but rejoice at the fact that almost all modern IOS models have the ability to export scan results to third-party applications in STL, OBJ or PLY formats.
The scanners presented at the exhibition were tested on a set of typodont models, with a full arch scan and a bite scan, and the results were compared.
Each scanner was evaluated according to the following criteria:
Scanning Speed (Speed)
Most modern scanners can perform a full-color scan of the entire arc in under 3 minutes.
Scan Quality (Flow)
This shows the quality of capturing the surface and shape during the scanning process, the continuity of the scan, the speed of recognizing the place of a stop after resuming an interrupted work, as well as the quality of the stitching of the scan and the resulting file.
Scanner Size (Size)
The is based not only on head size, but also on the overall size and weight of the scanner.
Ease of Use (Ease)
This criterion shows the convenience of the equipment, the smoothness of scanning, the capabilities of the software, image processing and organization of the workflow.
Price/Investment Cost (Price)
This refers to the cheapest and most expensive models in the review.
Availability of Paid Service (Subs)
The availability of paid or free software update services, technical maintenance, technical support
Touch Screen (Touch)
The controls on the scanner are on it
Wireless Scanner (Wireless)
The ability to work wirelessly, usually with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection;
Detection of Caries (Caries)
This is a function that detects the presence of a caries detection function, for example, transillumination or fluorescence;
Integration with CAD (CAD)
The availability of CAD functions in the software.
Medit i500 at SmileOnPerth (Wembley, Australia)
Drs Sean and Lara Slotar have created more smiles than anyone in Australia – more than 1200 smiles since 2008, more than having opened SmileOn Perth – Your GlamSmile with over 30 years experience in dentistry.
Sean and Lara love to change people’s lives. They love seeing how confidence comes with a change in appearance and when beaming smiles appear on people’s faces. Thanks to the Medit i500 intraoral scanner, Sean and Lara can create perfect new teeth without damaging healthy ones.
Dr. Sean Slotar said: “New technologies in the field of dentistry are great! No more cumbersome, messy, agonizing, patient-nauseating procedure. Your images, taken in a couple of minutes with the Medit i500 intraoral scanner are sent to a state-of-the-art foreign laboratory via the Internet. This means that our customers can quickly and easily turn into smiling people!
Application of Shining 3D Aoralscan in the restoration of an implant in a fifty-one-year-old patient
Dr. Cheng Qingshen, Chief Physician of the Implantology Department of Hangzhou Dental Hospital (Chengxi Branch), was approached by a 51-year-old patient complaining about the condition of the implant at the site of one of the molars. For intraoral scanning, a Shining Aoralscan 3D scanner was used . The scanning procedure took about 7 minutes.
After the data received, a digital model of the new crown was developed and sent to the laboratory for fabrication. The manufacturing process took about 20 minutes.
Dr. Chen commented on this case:
“Aoralscan is accurate, fast and efficient. With its help, the dentist can obtain comprehensive information about the state of the patient’s oral cavity. Restoration of implants can be performed using proprietary design software and a CNC milling machine. Digital technologies reduce the time of work with the patient and improve their perception of medical manipulations. I am sure that we will constantly use this scanner in our work.”
Dr. Camille Trolle, 3Shape Trios 3 3D Scanner , Tandlægerne Hørsholm Clinic
Dentist Camille Trolle is an experienced dentist who has been using the 3Shape TRIOS 3 intraoral 3D scanner in her practice for many years. In addition, in partnership with 3Shape, she conducts seminars and training courses on the use of modern digital technologies in dentistry.
Dr Troll says:
“With the digital technology of 3Shape TRIOS 3, the dentist has many new possibilities. Efficiency increases, accuracy increases and the risk of manual errors is minimized. Digital processing greatly simplifies treatment and ensures simple and accurate communication between the dental clinic and the laboratory. In addition, the treatment process becomes fast, elegant and painless thereby, minimizing the time the patient spends in the chair.”
Recommended Equipment Models
The 3Shape TRIOS 3 dental 3D scanner gives the dental office the ability to significantly reduce patient service time. When present, the scanner increases patient satisfaction with the services provided, and facilitates the work of the doctor. The streamlined shape of the scanner eliminates discomfort or injury to patients. TRIOS provides continuous software updates and a range of powerful applications to expand the range of services for which it can be used.
- Weight: 373gm
- Dimensions: 42 x 274 x 120mm
- File formats: DCM, STL
- Interface: USB
- Light source: LED
- Software: TRIOS®
- Scanning accuracy: 4.5 microns ± 0.9 µm
- Color Scan: (Trios 3 Basic – No), (Trios 3 -Yes)
The 3Shape TRIOS 3 intraoral dental 3D scanner connects to a computer via Wi-Fi or via a wired connection (Basic model). TRIOS 3 is equipped with a removable sterilizable handpiece. The charging station can accommodate three batteries at the same time. This reduces loss of working time.
The ergonomic scanner is available in two versions – in the form of a pen or with an additional pen.
- Weight: 287g
- Dimensions: 267mm
- Country of Manufacture: Korea
- Scan area: 14 x 13 mm
- Light source: LED
- Error :± 2 µm
- Specialization: Dentistry
- Scanning accuracy: 4.2±0.49 microns
- Color scan: Yes
The Medit i500 is a new high-precision intraoral scanner primarily aimed at dental technicians and orthodontists.
When developing a scanner, manufacturers focus on high profitability from its use. Therefore, the design and software allow you to get high performance at a good price. The Medit i500 uses an open CAD/CAM system. Therefore, you can export STL files from Medit Link and transfer or share it to external labs.
The scanner is equipped with two high-speed cameras, which make it scan fast. The smoothness of scanning is ensured by an intelligent scanning algorithm. Scanning does not require the application of optical powders to the teeth.
The tip of the Medit i500 is small and will not cause discomfort to the patient.
Medit i500 creates realistic images with good resolution and high detail. The scanner uses video capture. Therefore, it receives a large amount of data from two cameras in a short time. It also supports color scanning without loss of accuracy.
The scanner is comfortable and lightweight. Therefore, it is comfortable to carry even during long scans. A Start/Stop button is used to start or stop a scan.
The scanner comes with user-friendly and easy-to-learn software. The software has all the necessary functions, such as analysis of undercut areas, automatic occlusion detection and analysis, protection of scanned data from overwriting, as well as receiving and processing video from cameras.
This is the fourth generation of TRIOS scanners, and it retains all the strengths of TRIOS 3. As you know, the TRIOS 3 is one of the fastest dental 3D scanners on the market.
The TRIOS 4 Intraoral Scanner has the same speed as the 3Shape TRIOS 3 (a full arch scan is completed within 25 seconds). However, it has a more ergonomic and stylish design, enhanced functionality, and some hardware and software improvements.
- Weight: 375g
- Dimensions: 42 x 274 x 120mm
- File formats: DCM, STL
- Interface: USB
- Light source: LED
- Software: TRIOS®
- Scanning accuracy: : 4.5 ± 0.9 µm microns
- Color scan: Yes
In this Intraoral 3d scanner, superficial caries detection has been added using proprietary fluorescent dual scan technology. The scan results are superimposed on a digital model in the form of a color map with marks of possible tooth damage. The optional scanning tip allows screening between proximal surfaces using transillumination.
The TRIOS scanner tip has been replaced with new Smart Tips that allow you to scan immediately without waiting for the scanner to warm up. There is also a useful autoclaving counter feature. Other features include:
- Increased maximum cycles before replacement is now 150
- Wireless model battery life increased by 30%
- The TRIOS software has been greatly improved and now includes features such as Clear Aligners, Dentures, Sleep equipment, and more.
The SHINING 3D Aoralscan intraoral scanner allows dentists and orthodontists to obtain high-quality digital images used in further treatment, implantation and restoration of teeth. The device does not require additional training for specialists to use it. Morever, it comes with an intuitive intelligent software. Replaceable sterilizable tips eliminate the risk of patient contamination.
- Interface: USB 3.0
- Ambient temperature: from 10°С to 40°С
- Operating Systems: Windows 10, 64bit
- Scan speed: 15 fps
- Data output format: STL, OBJ
- Color Scan: Yes
PC configuration requirements:
- Processor: I7-7700 or above
- RAM: 16 GB or more
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DDR or higher
After a quick and painless 3D scan for the patient, the doctor receives a digital image of the oral cavity with realistic color and clear lines. The scanning process can be interrupted if necessary, and then resumed from where it left off.
The software allows you to explore changes in the oral cavity in dynamics, according to previous images. The use of cloud infrastructure enables remote storage and use of scan results by other specialists, for example, in a dental laboratory.
There are still dentists who use old technology to create impressions. Sometimes, it is justified to instantly take an impression in order to then scan it with a desktop 3D dental scanner. But more and more specialists prefer intraoral scanning. There are a number of reason for this. For example, it is more hygienic, does not require consumables (mass for impression), gives accurate results, and the speed of such scanners grows as they develop.
You can buy intraoral scanners at various sites online. For example, Top3DShop’s specialists will help you choose the equipment according to your requirements, offer the most suitable models, provide a guarantee and service.