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Scanning and 3D Printing: Orthodontics and Modern Technology

Orthoyl October 05, 2022

Advances in technology have changed almost every field you can imagine, and orthodontics is no different. Modern orthodontists have significant advantages in how they’re able to treat patients compared to how things were once done through the effective use of updated technology. Two of the most notable advances that we’ve embraced here at B Orthodontics are digital scanning and 3D printing. Here’s how they work to make your treatment more comfortable and more efficient.

Digital Scanning

It used to be that at the beginning of orthodontic treatment, a patient would have to have molds taken of their teeth, to create an exact model of their mouth that could be used to customize their braces or other orthodontic appliance. This meant biting down on trays of goo and waiting for them to set. The process was uncomfortable and time-consuming at best, and if the impression didn’t set correctly, it might have to be redone. For patients with a sensitive gag reflex, this factor alone was sometimes a deterrent to treatment.

B Orthodontics has replaced that system with a high-tech iTero digital scanner—in fact, we don’t even have the equipment in our office to do old-fashioned impressions anymore. The iTero scanner is a light, handheld wand that we use to scan the inside of your mouth to capture a full, accurate 3D image. There’s no radiation because it isn’t an X-ray; instead, it’s more like a series of detailed photos that are put together to fully visualize your teeth, gums, and palate. The resulting digital model can be instantly pulled up on the computer. The process is easy, more precise than impressions, and 100% goo- and gag-free! What’s most exciting, however, is how these scans can be used in conjunction with 3D printing to customize and expedite treatment.

3D Printing

Whether it is used for a professional application or at home by a hobbyist, 3D printing starts with a 3D digital model of what the user wants to create. The 3D printer creates a solid object in that form by building up layer upon layer of material (usually plastic or resin) until it is completed. With our 3D printer, we’re able to take those detailed intraoral scans and print our patient models in-house. This is useful for fitting traditional braces, as we need a model of the jaw and teeth to create each patient’s personalized treatment plan, but that is not nearly all we can do.

With those models, we’re able to create appliances like retainers, custom mouth guards, and whitening trays in our specialty lab. Handling these ourselves gives us a quicker turnaround than if we had to send them to an outside lab, shortening the wait for you. Computerized scanning makes it possible for us to create these for patients who are located far away when necessary because digital intraoral scans (unlike physical models made from impressions) can be saved long-term and reproduced when necessary to mail our patients replacements. We’re even able to fabricate a series of limited clear plastic aligners to get your teeth back to perfect straightness if you’ve had a minor relapse issue. The technology gives us a greater range of options of what we’re personally able to handle for our patients, making it more convenient and quicker than ever to get you the treatment you need.

Making Treatment Better

At B Orthodontics, we’re constantly looking for ways to make our treatment and your patient experience better. By using digital scanning, we’re able to get the detailed information we need to guide your treatment plan more comfortably and accurately. In addition, 3D printing expands the capability of the services we’re able to provide through our in-house specialty lab. In combination, these technologies make the orthodontic care we deliver more effective and convenient than ever for our patients.

If you’ve been hesitating to visit the orthodontist because you’re not sure what to expect, come in for a consultation with B Orthodontics. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and show you the ways modern technology can help you have a beautiful, healthy smile faster and more comfortably than ever. To schedule your appointment, contact us here today.

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