3D Dental Imaging: Intraoral Scanning

One of the most exciting advances in dental imaging technology is three-dimensional intraoral scanning. Of all of the newer technologies we offer at Mint Mini Dental Implants, this one seems to make our patients the most happy! In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about three-dimensional intraoral scanning.

What is 3D Intraoral Scanning?

3D Dental Imaging Intraoral Scanning Mint Mini Dental ImplantsThree-dimensional intraoral scanning is a method of capturing a digital replica of your teeth. Unlike intraoral photography, which is two-dimensional like any other form of digital photography, intraoral scanning is three-dimensional, and the image it produces is a three-dimensional “model”.  

Intraoral scanners use a small, wand-shaped camera to capture thousands of tiny images of the teeth as your dentist, hygienist or assistant scans it over every surface of the teeth. These images immediately convert into a digital model, visible on a connected computer screen. The dental professional capturing your image monitors the building model and adjusts or corrects any areas of deficiency during scanning for a complete picture of your teeth.

How Does 3D Intraoral Scanning Work?

The technology in three-dimensional intraoral scanning works by stitching together those thousands of tiny images using areas of overlap, piecing them together into a perfect puzzle-piece fit. The different angulation of the wand informs the software of varying surfaces, so that the combination creates a three-dimensional digital model.

How Do Dentists Use 3D Intraoral Scanning?

Three-dimensional intraoral scanning takes the place of dental impressions in many cases.  Traditional impressions use a material that changes in consistency via a setting reaction. The material begins as a relatively moldable consistency, and after setting, holds a specific rubbery shape.  Dentists use this to capture a “negative” of the exact shape of your teeth and gums. Then we place a different material into the “negative” to build a physical three-dimensional model.  

Most dental patients are familiar with this gooey impression process.  

Three-dimensional intraoral scanning replaces gooey impressions with a digital camera. Dentists can use digital impressions for many of the same applications as traditional impressions.