Everyone wants a smile that they love, and modern orthodontics have made it easier for everyone to have one. In particular, the Invisalign system has become extremely popular, and now the patient experience has become even better thanks to the iTero scanner, which makes digital impressions of your teeth that are quick, easy, painless and precise. Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL is pleased to offer this state-of-the-art technology to our patients.
What Is the iTero Scanner?
iTero is a digital “Intraoral scanner” that your dental professional uses to take precision digital 3D images of your teeth and mouth. It’s a technology that replaces the old-school method of taking tooth impressions, which had the patient bite into a putty-like material that hardened into a mold. The iTero system is simple to use for the dental professional, faster and more comfortable for the patient, and produces more detailed images than the old hard-mold system that it replaces.
The iTero system uses both optical and laser imaging technologies to create remarkably precise images in color. Because the data is digital, the visualization can be zoomed, enlarged and rotated, so the dental professional can show the patient exactly what work should be done to achieve the desired results. The system can also provide a visualization of what the teeth will look like over the course of the Invisalign process, and what end success will look like.
Why Digital Is Better
For the patient, the iTero system takes a lot of the fear of the unknown out of the re-alignment process. Teeth straightening, no matter which process chosen, is a serious commitment. When you can see what your teeth will look like during the alignment period and a simulation of the end results before you’ve even started the process, you’ve removed the biggest question mark from the equation. The iTero system also allows the patient to become engaged with their own decision making.
You can clearly see the dental problems you’re having from the same point of view as the dental professional, and you can work together to make decisions on how to move forward.
Because the imagery produced by iTero is digital, the misalignment problems and simulated outcome of the Invisalign treatment can even be shared between professional and patient via email. This allows for better family decision-making regarding the treatment, and can help teens needing treatment better understand the corrections that will be undertaken as well as the look of the end results.
How Does iTero Fit In With Invisalign?
The iTero system and Invisalign both come from the same parent company. This guarantees the best possible workflow for the dental professional and the most predictable experience and results for the patient. That said, the iTero scanner is also used with other types of braces and alongside basic dental x-rays because of its ease, safety and precision. The system takes up to six thousand images per second!
The iTero scanner is designed to provide the most seamless experience with the Invisalign system. However, unlike first-generation dental scanners, iTero is an “open” system. Digital scans from iTero devices can be easily shared with other dental professionals and third-party providers. The digital impression files can be sent directly to the lab or fabricator of their choice. This makes the process smoother for the dental professional and more predictable for the patient.
Why Is It Easier for the Patient?
Until digital scanning systems like iTero, the process of preparing your teeth for re-alignment was an unpleasant chore. In order to create re-alignment “braces” of whatever type, the patient had to bite into a messy, goop-like substance that tasted bad and had to be held in place for as long as five minutes. Patients often gagged or drooled during this process, quite understandably, which in some cases produced negative effects on the accuracy of the impression.
The iTero system not only offers unmatched accuracy but is also extremely fast. In some cases, a full mouth scan can be performed in as little as 60 seconds. The technician moves a small wand over the teeth, creating detailed 3D images without discomfort to the patient. Hard-to-reach back molars can be imaged without causing gagging from the patient or undue strain on the technician.
Tooth data is easier to capture and more accurate once acquired. Instead of the unpleasant ordeal of mold creation, followed by uncertainty of what the results will look like, patients enjoy a speedy imaging session and see expected results with their professional while they’re still in the chair.
Why Is It Easier for the Dental Professional?
Until digital imaging like iTero, the great “X factor” of dental re-alignment had always been the process of creating the most accurate molds from which the alignment system, such as Invisalign, would be formed. Dental professionals were faced with difficulties in getting patients to bite down properly and securely on the unpleasant putty substance, especially in difficult-to-reach places in the rear of the mouth.
Once the molds were created and hardened, the dental professional had to send the physical molds to a lab that created the re-alignment braces. The process of “snail mailing” packages from one facility to another is time-consuming, and the office had to manually keep track of where everything was throughout the process.
With earlier technologies, the dental professional might get word from the lab two or three weeks later that the molds or data files weren’t good enough to produce accurate re-alignment tools. By being able to provide immediate feedback from the iTero’s digital files, both dental professionals and patients save time and frustration.
Is the Procedure Proven?
iTero launched its first intraoral scanner in 2007. Since then, iTero scans have been used for more than 20 million orthodontic scans and more than 4 million restorative crowns, bridges, and custom implant cases. In all, there have been more than 25 million scans taken with the iTero technology. The iTero scanning system is largely regarded as the state-of-the-art in dental imaging and keeps getting better. By 2015, the system was already imaging up to 20 times faster than the original equipment, and new improvements in hardware, software and workflow keep coming.
Is the Procedure Safe?
The iTero system does not expose patients to any sort of radiation and is completely safe, even for pregnant women. This process utilizes only visible light, and there is no exposure to radiation (x-rays). Not only is the system safe for the patient, but there are also built-in safety features for the dental professional. The iTero automatically saves its data every two seconds, sending it to the system’s storage drive. In the event of an interruption in power in the office or other unforeseen happenstance, the work isn’t lost and there’s no need for a re-do of the scanning.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
Before intraoral scanners like iTero, the process of taking a dental mold seemed to go on forever. The actual time when the mold was in the mouth may have only been 5-10 minutes, but given the offputting smell, taste and texture of the molds, it often seemed like forever to the patient. The discomfort of the mold itself and the other factors discussed sometimes led to movement of the mouth, which meant that the process had to be repeated.
Finally, when the mold hardened, there was the mystery, for both professional and patient, as to whether the mold was truly accurate. Nobody could say for certain until the resulting dental bracing was delivered back to the office weeks later. By contrast, the scanning process with iTero is quick and free from unpleasant tastes or odors. The process can be easily paused at any point if you need to give your jaw a short break. Even if you have to take a break, the dental professional can remove the wand from your mouth and resume the scanning process when you’re ready, without affecting the final impression.
Most iTero scans take 10-15 minutes to perform. Once they’re done, both professional and patient can spend as much time as they like going over the scan and visualizing both projected progress and the final expected end result.
What Can You Expect From the Experience?
The dental re-alignment experience has been completely changed by the advent of digital scanning. The technology has introduced much greater precision and predictability into the procedure, which relieves a lot of the anxiety about having your teeth straightened or repaired. It’s worth repeating that dental re-alignment is a commitment. It’s easier to make the commitment when you’ve seen a representation of the final outcome. After all, seeing is believing.
Because the scanning procedure is so much faster than old-school mold techniques, the patient experience is largely free from discomfort or anxiety. There’s no pain, no dangerous radiation and no medicinal goop that gets stuck in between teeth and can be hard to remove even days later. Perhaps most important of all, the patient really gets to see for themselves what’s wrong with their teeth, what will be done to correct them, and what their smile will look like once the re-alignment is finished.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
If you’re in need of orthodontic re-alignment or other dental work and you find the dental chair intimidating, the iTero system takes away much of the fear factor and discomfort. The system is also a good choice for people who typically gag or become nauseous when they have invasive dental or orthodontic work done.
The iTero scanner is also the fastest way for patients who want to begin their Invisalign treatments as soon as possible. The iTero system can provide instant delivery of its imaging to Invisalign, saving weeks of wait time. For patients that work with more than one dental professional, such as separate dentists and orthodontists, or a maxillofacial surgeon, iTero offers a compatible file system that can be shared between separate care providers.
How to Get Started
Dental re-alignment is a commitment that nobody undertakes lightly. Not only does it involve time and expense, but there’s also the responsibility of wearing Invisalign for 20-22 hours a day until the straightening is complete. That process typically takes 12-18 months, and without digital scans to see the progress, there’s an element of uncertainty that can trouble the patient during all that time.
The iTero scanner takes the uncertainty out of the equation. The patient sees clearly what needs to be done, what the final results should look like, and precisely tracks progress throughout the entire re-alignment period.
When such an advancement becomes available, both patients and professionals benefit greatly. If your smile isn’t what you’d like it to be, you owe it to yourself to see how iTero can change your look and your outlook. Schedule a consultation today with Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL today to learn more.