The value of intraoral scanning for your sleep appliances What you should know…


Are intraoral scans right for my practice – Why not?” This technology is moving so fast what seemed unbelievable 2-3 years ago is standard practice in many offices and labs today. Why should you consider intraoral scans if you haven’t yet? It’s not the future – it’s the present!

Segmental model
Segmental model

Why should I change?

  • Customers tell us, “The appliance fit from my digital order submissions is superior to impressions”.
  • The time to scan versus taking impression is about the same
  • Long teeth and open contacts are no longer a concern with dental scans
  • Reduces your inventory of consumable materials & alginate and eliminates the mess and cleanup required
  • Patient comfort and no re-takes as opposed to impressions = Priceless

With the proper software you can also use these scans for:

  • Treatment planning
  • Tooth width analysis
  • Model set comparisons
  • Virtual set ups; move or extract teeth
  • Model storage

It’s hard to change, but you’re not alone – our lab had to relearn what we knew, too!
Digital order requests from clinicians were coming in fast. As one of the bigger labs, Great Lakes learned quickly what we needed to do to keep up and fulfill these orders. To say we felt overwhelmed in the beginning is an understatement. There was so much to learn; all the procedures we used had to be modified. In your office you will need to make modifications, too, but the benefits will be worth the effort.
Take your time and research the scanner options to find what fits your needs

  • Make a list of the positives and negatives of each scanner you are comparing
  • Ask what the annual fees are
  • Does the scanner integrate with your patient management software
  • Compare price versus value. Price is important but sometimes you get what you pay for.

6mm beyond gingival margin
6mm beyond gingival margin

In the lab we need to receive files in an open file format referred to as .stl files. ‘Per Wikipedia, .stl is defined as STereoLithography – a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems. STL is also known as Standard Tessellation Language’.
Some scanners use a cloud-based file sending system. Your lab needs to be connected to these vendors in order to receive your orders directly from the scanner, which saves you time. Some scanners allow you to access your .stl files and you can upload them where ever you like. At Great Lakes, we provide a digital portal where you can upload and monitor all your orders 24/7 Your files are safe, password protected; it’s fast and as simple as sending an email with attachments.
From these scans the lab will print the appropriate size model for the appliance you are ordering. We select from segmental, 6mm (horseshoe), palate and lingual anatomy, and also offer Low Profile or Full Study model bases if requested.
(top) Palate and lingual anatomy; (bottom) Low profile model
(top) Palate and lingual anatomy; (bottom) Low profile model

Keep in mind if you needed to capture an area in an impression, you still need to capture that area in the scan. For your bite registration you can scan the patient in C/O, C/R or protrusive and provide the proper VDO. We will print the bite position to use to mount your models! Physical model storage, bubbles, shifted or broken bites, model voids, and distortions are a thing of the past! Digital model files are now at your fingertips and easily managed on an external hard drive.
Take your time to choose your scanner, but adding this digital technology to your practice will be a decision you will not regret!
About Great Lakes Orthodontics
Great Lakes Orthodontics, Ltd., is an employee-owned company, serves sleep specialists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, oral surgeons, the restorative and general dental profession worldwide. We offer over 2,500 products and operate one of the largest orthodontic laboratories in the United States. We also conduct classes on the latest appliance fabrication techniques at our on-site training center. Our employee team of 250+ members serves customers from our headquarters in Tonawanda, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. We sell, install and service intraoral scanners, desktop scanners, software, printers and a wide variety of lab services.

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