If you’ve ever had a crown made, gotten braces, or even had a night guard made you know all about getting impressions taken. A friendly dental assistant mixes some weird colored goopy material and places it in a special tray that looks way too big to fit in your mouth. Then she tells you to open wide and the tray and all the goopy material are shoved in as if the goal is to get you to gag. You gotta get it done, so you power through while thinking to yourself, why does this stuff taste like feet? Just when you think you’re done she tells you “okay just 3 more minutes”. After what feels like an eternity she finally takes the impression out and you can breath again. AAAhhhh relief. Now hopefully your sigh of relief isn’t followed by the assistant saying “hmm that didn’t come out right lets try it again”.
This is the way most dental impressions have gone in the past. If you’ve had one taken I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself and said, “There’s got to be a better way”. Just as I’m sure many dentists, including myself, have thought. Well the good news is that there is.
Bye Bye Goop
Enter Digital Impressions. Thanks to advanced camera and software technology digital impressions are now able to say bye bye to the goop. These tiny cameras can take pictures of the tooth or teeth from multiple different angles and combine them to form a 3d digital model. Impressions are no longer necessary and the 3D digital model can be used to fabricate all kinds of things like crowns, bridges, and more.
The process is painless and fast. You still have to open wide but that’s about all you need to do. The assistant will move around a wand looking camera system inside your mouth. Typically 15-20 images from different angles are snapped in a minute or two. The images are then processed by advanced software technology that pieces the pictures together to form a beautiful 3D image that can be used instead of a traditional model.
Don't Get Too Excited
Before you think your days of impressions are over keep a few things in mind. This technology is still new which means its super expensive. Were taking thirty to forty thousand dollars for one of these bad boys! Translation: you wont be finding many of these at dental offices around the country just yet. This will start to change as more competitors get involved and prices begin to drop.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this technology can only be used to replace impressions for three to four teeth at most. Which means if you’re getting braces or dentures or anything that involves needing to see all your teeth at once, digital impressions wont be an option. Insert sad face. On the bright side it means enough people have had it with the goop and companies and individuals are now thinking of ways to make the process easier. Thus ensuring that we’re on our way to saying bye bye to whole messy impression process.