About 4 million people in the United States have braces — that includes kids, teens, and adults. And it’s almost certain that every one of those people had impressions made before their treatment began. Impressions are three-dimensional models or molds of your teeth that enable your orthodontist to develop a treatment plan just for you.
Until recently, having impressions made meant using a hard plastic or metal tray filled with gooey putty, biting into it, then holding that bite to allow the putty to start to “set.” The putty isn’t harmful, but the experience of traditional impressions can be uncomfortable, triggering a gag reflex that can interfere with the impression results.
At Freedom Orthodontics in Cedar Park, Texas,Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, and our team offer our patients digital impressions using state-of-the-art technology to obtain clear, accurate impressions without bulky, putty-filled trays.
Digital impressions use an intraoral scanner to capture highly detailed images of your bite pattern and individual teeth. Then, those images are fed into a computer system that’s designed to take that data and transform it into a three-dimensional replica of your mouth. Dr. Smith stores the digital impression on a computer, so it’s always available for reference throughout your treatment.
If you’re wondering why digital impressions are so important to your treatment, here are four ways we believe they outshine traditional putty molds.
One of the benefits of digital impressions is that they’re very detailed and accurate, which means your treatment can be fine-tuned for each tooth. Putty impressions are subject to defects created by the putty material, the trays, or something as simple as a slight movement while the impression is being made. They’re also subject to human error when the impressions are trimmed or put together.
Because orthodontic treatment relies on accuracy and precision, even a minor defect in your impressions can have a big impact on your treatment and results. Digital impressions can be viewed from different angles, with each view providing all the detail Dr. Smith needs to ensure your treatment is designed for success.
Putty impressions and their hard trays are downright uncomfortable. The trays need to include all your teeth, so that means they extend way back toward your throat. If you’re prone to gagging — and even if you’re not — the sheer size of the trays makes putty impressions an ordeal. Plus, the trays need to stay in place for a period of time to enable the putty to hold its shape.
With digital impressions, our intraoral scanner takes just a few moments to capture accurate images of your teeth, jaws, and palate. The camera itself is slim, so it’s a lot more comfortable than large, bulky trays of putty.
If Dr. Smith wants to confer with your dentist or another specialist or lab during your treatment, all it takes is a few clicks, and your impressions can be shared securely over the Internet. The only way to share a putty impression is to manually deliver it to the person, which is really time-consuming.
Traditional putty impressions use plastic trays and lots of excess putty, all of which winds up in a landfill eventually. Even the impressions themselves eventually need to be disposed of, which just adds to the waste problem. Digital impressions are captured and stored on a computer so there’s no waste involved — and they don’t take up any physical storage space.
Digital impressions are just one more way Dr. Smith and the entire team at Freedom Orthodontics are helping patients enjoy a lifetime of beautiful smiles. To learn more about orthodontic treatment and how it can help your smile look its best, call our office or request an appointment online today.