When you need orthodontic treatment, having tooth impressions taken with traditional gel molds can be an uncomfortable process and has its drawbacks. Luckily, we live in a modern age where new technology is quickly replacing older dentistry techniques, and the iTero scanner is a perfect example of this. At Dr. Scott Runnels Orthodontics, with locations in Destin, Inlet Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach, FL, we offer high-precision scans with this 3D imaging system to improve accuracy during your treatment process.
Because it’s a newer technology, not everyone is aware of the many benefits of having an iTero scan performed. So if you haven’t yet heard about this type of digital imaging, here’s a quick overview of how it works and when you should consider getting it.
What Is the iTero Scanner?
The iTero scanner is an intraoral device that we use to gather 3D images of your teeth and mouth. Because of its many benefits, including more accurate images and faster results, it’s quickly replacing the old-fashioned method of using gel molds to take impressions of teeth. Its technology is based on optical and laser imaging, which produces full-color images during each scan that you can see for yourself on a nearby screen.
Due to its digital nature, we’re able to zoom in on small areas, enlarge these shots, and rotate the image at a 360-degree angle. This not only allows us to show you areas deep within your mouth that would otherwise be difficult for you to see but also offers the opportunity to see how different treatments might improve your teeth and smile over time since we can easily demonstrate this with digital images.
When Should You Get an iTero Scan?
The iTero scan can be beneficial in multiple ways and it has many advantages over traditional impression-taking techniques. You should consider getting one if any of the following scenarios apply:
You Want More Accuracy
While we’re highly skilled at taking the most accurate impressions possible with conventional molds, they still can’t provide the same 3D imaging and accuracy that digital scanning equipment provides. Because of their basic design, impression molds just simply aren’t as precise as this type of technology is.
You Prefer Transparency
With this scanner, there’s more transparency, as we can show you 3D images of your teeth and any issues you may have with them. Not only does this allow you to be more involved in the diagnosis process, but it can offer more peace of mind as you can see what we see in vivid detail.
You’d Rather Avoid a Mess
One of the most convenient aspects of this technology is that it doesn’t require the use of thick gels, like alginate or polyvinyl siloxane. Many patients report feeling uncomfortable with having these goopy gels in their mouth, and with an iTero scan, there’s no need for them.
You Want Less Do-Overs
Taking impressions with conventional molds isn’t always straightforward, as we sometimes need to repeat the process if a crevice or ridge isn’t fully captured by the mold. Because this scanner uses digital technology, it’s less likely that we’ll need to repeat the process after the first scan, so less hassle.
You’d Like To Save Time
With conventional impression molds, appointments can often take longer because there’s more preparation involved. We first have to prepare the molding trays by filling them with gel, and then we have to wait for the gel to harden, while there’s virtually no preparation needed when using this device.
You Want To Preview Results
The iTero scanner has a feature called the Invisalign Outcome Simulator, which allows us to show you what the results of your Invisalign treatment are likely to look like once completed. This can help to give you an idea of whether the results will match your expectations.
You Like To Provide Feedback
Another benefit of being able to see the predicted results of treatment beforehand is that you have the opportunity to give immediate feedback. You can tell us how you feel about these results so that we can adjust our treatment plan, if needed, based on your preferences.
You Prefer Increased Comfort
Having bulky molding material in your mouth can be uncomfortable, especially since we have to wait for the gel to harden. With the iTero device, we can quickly scan the entire mouth, and you’ll be able to swallow more easily during the brief time that the handheld wand is in place inside your mouth.
You Want a Safer Option
During your ortho treatment, the need for regular scans is usually necessary to adjust your treatment over time, especially when it comes to Invisalign and braces. Instead of using radiation-emitting imaging equipment for this, we can use the iTero scanner instead, which doesn’t produce any radiation.
You Want a Digital File
One of the many benefits of digital technology is the ease with which images and files can be transferred to others. We understand that you may be seeing multiple dentists or orthodontists for different types of treatment, and the images that we capture of your teeth and mouth can be easily transferred to other professionals who use a similar system.
You Want To Visualize Progress
In addition to greater accuracy, the images produced by this scanner at each follow-up appointment allow you to see how your body is responding to treatment over time. Changes in your teeth, gum line, and jaw can all be observed in vivid detail with each scan.
What Happens During the Scanning Process?
Once we begin the scanning process, a plastic wand is gently moved around inside your mouth. We’ll typically begin at the back of your mouth where the arch of teeth ends while moving slowly around the arch to the other end to capture as much detail as possible.
The images can be seen on the screen in real time as the system is gathering them, it’s a completely painless process, and all you may feel is a slight touch of the scanner against your teeth. One of the great things about this scanner is that we can also capture the hard palate in the roof of your mouth for greater accuracy, which only requires us to face the wand upwards to scan this area without even touching your palate.
How Long Does Each Scan Take?
The scans themselves take less than 15 minutes in most cases, though the process can be much quicker than the old-school way of taking impressions of your teeth with gel molds. This is because of its accuracy, which greatly cuts down on errors in the process and the need to repeat it more than once.
After we gather the digital images of your mouth, we can spend as much time as you’d like going over the images themselves, so you can feel confident with the results and see how treatments might correct any issues we find.
How Safe Is the iTero Scanner?
Because the iTero system doesn’t use any radiation, it’s safer than traditional imaging equipment. It uses a harmless laser-based light to capture images of your teeth. Unlike some other types of imaging equipment, it’s also a silent device, so patients who are uncomfortable with loud sounds or who have hearing sensitivities can feel comfortable while the scans are being taken.
Some patients don’t like conventional impression molds because they can elicit a gag reflex in some cases, which can be due to the taste of the putty-like gel that’s used or because of the obtrusive nature of the molding material itself. Because the iTero device uses only a small handheld wand, it’s less likely to lead to this type of reflex, so it can be much more comfortable.
Who Is a Good Candidate for iTero Scans?
Just about anybody who needs orthodontic treatment, whether it’s braces, Invisalign, or other re-alignment options, is likely a perfect candidate for this type of imaging. Because it’s a completely safe process, most patients make good candidates, and it mostly comes down to your personal preferences.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of gel molds, which can often smell odd and leave a weird taste in your mouth, you may prefer the iTero system over conventional impression-taking methods. If you prefer accuracy and being able to see predictive results of your treatment beforehand, this option is for you.
Schedule Your Digital Scan Today
Regardless of what type of correction or re-alignment your teeth may need, the iTero scanner is a safe and highly accurate way to capture 3D images of these issues. To see how this system can help you with your smile, contact us today at Dr. Scott Runnels Orthodontics at any of our locations in Destin, Inlet Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach, FL.