How Are Digital Impressions Different from Traditional Impressions?

How Are Digital Impressions Different from Traditional Impressions?

Orthodontic treatment offers lots to look forward to: Straighter teeth, a more beautiful smile, and reduced oral health risks are just a few benefits. But there’s one aspect of treatment that most patients don’t look forward to: gooey, sticky, gag-inducing impressions.

Impressions act as stand-in models of your teeth, and in orthodontics they play an essential role in treatment. While there’s no doubt that biting down on a hard tray filled with sticky putty is unpleasant, those impressions can’t be avoided — or can they? (Hint: The answer is yes.)

As a leading provider of cutting-edge orthodontic treatment for patients in Cedar Park, Texas, Brandon Smith, DDS, MS, and the team at Freedom Orthodontics, eliminate the discomfort of traditional putty impressions with digital technology designed to provide even more accurate modeling data about your teeth and your bite. 

Here’s how the digital process compares to old-fashioned putty impressions.

The critical role of impressions

Before getting braces or aligners, your orthodontist performs a careful exam of your mouth. But as important as that evaluation is to mapping out your treatment, it can’t really show a lot of details about your teeth and your bite mechanics. 

Dental impressions are important for allowing Dr. Smith to obtain a 3D representation of your mouth, so they can understand the issues affecting your bite — along with the best ways to treat those issues. These impressions act as a model that allows your orthodontist to tailor your treatment to your needs.

For a long time, impressions were made using a sticky plaster-like material glopped into a curved metal tray. During the impression process, you bite down on the tray and keep your mouth still while the putty initially sets up. 

The process itself doesn’t take long, but the shape of the trays and the consistency of the putty are a major source of gagging and discomfort for most patients.

The digital advantage

Not too long ago, researchers decided there had to be a better way to take impressions — one that would be more comfortable to the patient while also providing the orthodontist with more detailed information about the patient’s individual teeth and their bite mechanics. The answer: digital impressions.

For digital impressions, Dr. Smith leaves the trays and putty behind and uses a high-definition oral scanner in their place. The slim scanner is easy to use inside your mouth, taking very detailed images of your teeth and the surrounding area in a quick, painless process.

Once these images are made, they’re transmitted to a computer and transformed into 3D renderings of your mouth. Dr. Smith uses these images to map out your treatment or, for aligners, sends the images to the lab where your series of aligners are made.

And that’s it! No mess, no stress — just highly detailed, accurate models of your mouth for more precise treatment without the yuck.

State-of-the-art treatment for your unique needs

Digital impressions are just one way Dr. Smith is making orthodontic treatment easier and more patient-friendly. To learn more about digital impressions or to find out how orthodontic treatment can benefit you, call our office or book an appointment online today.

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