3 Essential Benefits of Digital Impressions for Orthodontics

Feb 08, 2024
3 Essential Benefits of Digital Impressions for Orthodontics
Dental prep work can sometimes be more uncomfortable than the actual treatment being performed. Dental impressions used to be cumbersome and awkward, but now there’s a better way. Read on to learn more.

Getting the right fit from your dental impression is essential for your orthodontic treatment. Whether it’s restoration work like a crown or veneer, or it’s braces or clear aligners, the smallest discrepancy can completely throw off your bite or your entire treatment plan. 

That’s why dental impressions are so important. But do they have to be so uncomfortable and unpleasant? Not anymore, says Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

In this blog, Dr. McGill explains the game-changer called digital impressions and how they completely transform the experience of getting a cast of your mouth.

What is a dental impression?

Let’s jump into this topic by first describing what a dental impression is. The best way to think about a dental impression is to compare it to an architectural blueprint that shows the location of things like doors and windows, besides providing a representation of scale and size.

A dental impression is taken before a restoration or service, like braces or clear aligners. The goal of a dental impression is to create a cast or mold of your mouth, which includes the size and relationship of your gums and teeth as well as the relationship between your dental arches, particularly how they fit together.

Traditional impressions

Traditional impressions use a putty-like material to create a dental mold. Your provider places the impression material into trays and puts the trays over your teeth. The material has to set and harden, which can take several minutes. 

Once the material has sufficiently set, your provider needs to rigorously pull the trays from your mouth. We then send your impressions to a dental laboratory, which fabricates a cast of your mouth.

Digital impressions

As its name suggests, a digital impression taps into digital technology to create the mold or cast of your mouth. Your dental provider uses a hand-held device or wand to shoot a series of images or perform a scan of your mouth. 

Currently, there are two ways to do digital impressions — one type captures the images as digital photographs and the other captures images as digital video. 

Regardless of the digital method used, the images pop up on a computer monitor as the digital impression procedure is happening. When your dental provider completes the procedure, capturing data for the location, size, and shape of your teeth, in addition to the placement of your gums, soft tissue, and bones, your data is uploaded into computer software.

Here at McGill Orthodontics, we use digital impressions to create orthodontic treatment plans for clear aligners and braces. The precise mapping gives us an accurate view of your bite, which helps us create a custom orthodontic treatment plan and timeline.

With clear aligners, we use data from your digital impression to establish how many sets of aligner trays you’ll need for treatment and how often your trays need to be switched out.

Benefits of digital impressions

1. No gooey putty material

For most patients, the top benefit of digital impressions over traditional impressions is saying goodbye to that gooey, distasteful putty material. And when you literally banish impression material to the Stone Age, patients also don’t have to worry about a fear of choking or gagging. That’s a win-win. 

2. Makes retakes easier

If you’ve ever had traditional impressions done, you’re all too aware that if there’s a hiccup or mistake anywhere doing the process, the entire process needs to be repeated. What’s worse is that your provider won’t know there’s an issue until after that awkward tugging step when the trays are pulled from your mouth. 

Since digital impressions provide real-time images, our team knows immediately if we didn’t get a clear image.

3. Quicker, more comfortable, and more precise

When you take the putty material out of the equation and you’re working with real-time data, not only does the whole process transpire more seamlessly, but it’s also more comfortable, quicker, and more precise. This translates into fewer inaccuracies, restoration fit issues, and treatment plan miscalculations.

Digital impressions are just one way we use advanced technology to provide superior service and comfort for our patients. If you’re ready to get that smile you’ve always dreamed about, contact McGill Orthodontics to get started. Call our office most convenient to you today or request your appointment online.