Between the time-consuming appointments and the tediousness of keeping your mouth open while all manner of instruments are used on your teeth, it’s understandable some people like to avoid appointments with the orthodontist. But at M. Scott Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL, we’re pleased to say that we have several ways to make your appointments faster and more comfortable, such as with the new iTero scanner.
What Is an iTero Scanner?
An iTero scanner is a special high-tech device used to greater a 3D model of your teeth without any discomfort. The best way to think of this device is as an upgraded x-ray that captures every angle and nuance of your teeth to create a highly accurate impression that can be used in further orthodontic work. iTero is currently a rising star among orthodontists for its ability to prioritize patient comfort, precision, and speed all at the same time.
How Does It Work?
Using iTero is similar to getting x-rays of your teeth, except that the scanner uses a small hand-held device or a wand that can capture every nook and cranny of your both. iTero is a type of intraoral scanner that can be used to render 3D images of the inside of your mouth, as well as how your teeth are rooted in your jaws, and any alignment dysfunctions you may have.
The use of the scanner takes only a few minutes. For patients, the use of the scanner is not unlike what you might experience during a dental cleaning – all patients have to do is open their mouths, and the scanner does the rest of the work. After the scan is complete, the data is sent over to a lab that will create physical 3D models of your teeth, and those models are then used to create your aligners.
What Is It Used for?
The primary purpose of this scanner is to create dental impressions for your orthodontic challenges. Impressions are an important aspect of dental work because they are used to create certain treatment products, such as retainers and even Invisalign aligners.
Impressions are traditionally done by using a sticky plaster, which is placed into your mouth and allowed to sit for about 5 minutes until the plaster sets around the impression of your teeth. The plaster is then cured and can be used to map out your orthodontic plan. iTero simplifies that entire process, making the traditional impression method redundant.
Why Do Accurate Impressions Matter?
It is vitally important that the impressions of your teeth that are used in your orthodontic treatment are accurate. An inaccurate impression can set back your treatment schedule, can make braces or retainers uncomfortable, and can delay your journey to a beautiful smile. For example, if an inaccurate impression is used to create your Invisalign aligners, then the aligners simply won’t fit and your treatment will be postponed.
When Is an iTero Scanner Used?
There are a few times when iTero scanners are used. Many patients need to have impressions of their teeth for their dental records as soon as their first appointment so that your orthodontic specialist can create your treatment plan. Additional scans may be necessary to check the progress of your treatment, adjust the alignment of your treatment, and to create retainers that will protect the longevity of your treatment.
What Are the Main Benefits of an iTero Scanner?
Traditional plaster impressions are uncomfortable to get, cost more money, and produce more waste. But there are other benefits for using the iTero scanner instead of traditional impressions, such as:
Less Mess and Waste
As a point of fact, traditional impression kits are messy, and not only for patients. Mixing the plaster is a gooey, time-consuming task, and the plaster has a tendency to stick to clothes and skin. In addition to the mess, the impression plaster doesn’t taste good and also stimulates the patient’s salivary glands, which compounds the clean-up process. iTero, on the other hand, is completely mess-free.
Using iTero scans also creates less waste. Traditional impression plaster has to be mixed by hand, with the excess being thrown away. iTero scans, on the other hand, limit the waste of impression material as the impression models aren’t built until they have been looked over by the lab facility that creates the physical 3D model.
More Patient Comfort
Most patients have had traditional impressions before, so it isn’t an exaggeration to say that getting traditional impressions is mildly uncomfortable. The impression kit is heavy, the plaster leaks into the mouth, and many patients find it difficult to comfortably breathe while impressions are being made. With iTero, patient comfort is guaranteed thanks to the quick and easy process.
Increase Patient Involvement
Traditional impressions leave very little room for patients to understand the process of what is happening to their teeth and how their treatment plans will work to correct alignment issues. This is because after impressions are taken, very few patients are able to see the end result of the plaster. With iTero, the 3D rendering of the impressions is visible on the computer, which gives patients the opportunity to ask questions and fully understand their treatment.
Five minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time in a broad sense, but when those five minutes are spent holding a heavy, sticky, congealed mess in the mouth, five minutes can seem like five hours. When iTero is used to create your impressions, the process only takes a couple of minutes and the results of the scanner can be rendered much more quickly than traditional impressions.
While traditional impressions are meant to be accurate molds of your teeth, the fact of the matter is that sometimes these molds aren’t entirely accurate. There are a few reasons for this, such as air bubbles being trapped in the plaster or the plaster being bumped before it is fully set. This is a problem that iTero scans do not have – and in fact, iTero scans are much more precise thanks to revolutionary computer technology.
Is an iTero Scanner Safe?
Yes, the iTero scanner is a safe device. Many patients assume that, like x-rays, the iTero device also uses radiation. But this isn’t the case; the technology used with an iTero scan does not involve any type of radiation, which means it is exceptionally low-risk compared to other dental scans. The iTero device is also low-risk for allergies.
iTero has been found safe by the FDA, which means it has passed various rigorous clinical trials. The iTero device is so safe that pregnant women can use it with no increased risk of radiation exposure or other complications from the device.
How iTero Works With Invisalign
iTero is most commonly used in conjunction with Invisalign to prepare the impressions that will be used to create the unique aligners that will help straighten teeth. Invisalign is a unique orthodontic process that can correct a number of dental concerns including:
- Crowded teeth
- Crooked teeth
There are a few points during your Invisalign treatment that might involve the use of the iTero device. Those three points include:
Your initial scan will create the base impressions of your teeth that will be used on your first aligners. This is the most important scan, as it maps out all of your orthodontic issues and gives your orthodontist a better idea of how to plan out your treatment to straighten your teeth for optimal results. The initial scan is what will be sent to the Invisalign company to create your first aligners.
At some point during your Invisalign treatment, you may need to have additional scans to check your progress against your treatment timeline. Generally speaking, most people are able to move through their Invisalign aligner schedule as set by the treatment plan, which means switching new aligners once every two to three weeks. Scans during your treatment will ensure that the aligners are performing as expected.
Once your teeth have been straightened to the optimal standard, you may also need an iTero scan to create the retainers you will use at night to maintain the straightness of your teeth. Wearing retainers after your Invisalign treatment is complete will prevent any shifting of the teeth. This scan may also be used to create custom retainers that are more enforcing.
Can This Scanner Speed Up Your Orthodontic Work?
To a certain extent, the use of this scanner can speed up the schedule of your orthodontic work, and not only because getting your initial impressions done is faster than traditional impressions. For example, using impressions that have a high degree of accuracy will prevent any mistakes in your future orthodontic care that may delay your results. It’s sometimes the case that traditional impressions are set incorrectly and have to be redone, a problem that iTero scans does not have.
Is This Scanner Compatible With All Alignment Problems?
Yes! There isn’t a single orthodontic concern that can’t be addressed with this scanner. This is because the hand-held device is small enough and sensitive enough to capture every angle of your teeth, no matter how out of alignment they are.
The iTero device can be used with overbites, crossbites, crowding, crooked teeth, and much more. iTero can also be used on alignment issues that are more exaggerated, such as having an “overjet”, which is an overbite that has a more pronounced extension of the front teeth.
Is the iTero the Best Digital Scanner?
There are actually quite a few intraoral digital scanners that can be used to create 3D impressions of your teeth, but we prefer the iTero device over others because it is easier to use, creates 3D rendering much more quickly, and has zero risks of negative side effects from allergies and radiation. The iTero device is also more accurate than similar digital scanners and is much easier to use, both for your dental technician and your comfort.
Who Are Ideal Candidates?
All patients make ideal candidates for this treatment due to the low risk associated with the scanner device. Candidates include women and men of all ages, women who are currently pregnant, and children and adolescents. You are more likely to be a candidate for the use of this device if you are seeking Invisalign treatment.
Enjoy Faster and More Accurate Impressions With iTero Today!
Going to the dentist or visiting doesn’t have to be a hassle when you have access to high-tech scanners that simplify your treatment process. The iTero device makes it easy to capture accurate impressions of your teeth that can be used to create aligners that will help you achieve a gorgeous smile. If you’re ready to start on your fuss-free orthodontic journey today, call M. Scott Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL to schedule your initial appointment.