Dental impressions using 3D digital scanners: virtual becomes reality
The technologies that have made the use of three-dimensional (3D) digital scanners an integral part of many industries for decades have been improved and refined for application to dentistry. Since the introduction of the first dental impressioning digital scanner in the 1980s, development engineers at a number of companies have enhanced the technologies and created in-office scanners that are increasingly user-friendly and able to produce precisely fitting dental restorations. These systems are capable of capturing 3D virtual images of tooth preparations, from which restorations may be fabricated directly (ie, CAD/CAM systems) or fabricated indirectly (ie, dedicated impression scanning systems for the creation of accurate master models). The use of these products is increasing rapidly around the world and presents a paradigm shift in the way in which dental impressions are made. Several of the leading 3D dental digital scanning systems are presented and discussed in this article.