CS 3500 CLINICAL CASE STUDY: The Value of an Open-System Intraoral Scanner

Roy Scott, D.D.S

Dr. Roy Scott had big plans to take his practice digital and eliminate alginate impressions with an intraoral scanner. Not only that, he wanted to add a 3D printer so he could fabricate appliances in his office; ultimately allowing him to cut back on the costs and time associated with shipping models to a lab. The switch hinged on a reliable intraoral scanner, and Dr. Scott knew exactly what he wanted.

"I wanted no per-click charges; I wanted it to save as an open-format STL file instantly; and I wanted it to be mobile because I have a satellite office,” he said.

The Search Was On

Thus began the search for the right scanner. A long line of vendors filed through the practice, but none matched his criteria.

“Several vendors told me I could save the scan as an STL file, but a little research quickly revealed the file actually had to be converted into an STL format by an outside vender, and there was a cost associated with that,” Dr. Scott said. “That eliminated a lot of the vendors right there.”

Other vendors required per-click fees for saving the file and then accessing it again when it came time to manipulate the scan. Still others’ scanners were tied to large carts that would have limited Dr. Scott’s mobility.

“Little ‘mini fridges’ that you had to move from room to room,” Dr. Scott said. “I get that if you have a dedicated office, need only one scanner and are willing to put up with having a large appliance sitting next to you, but I wanted the ability to have it portable and easy to move between the offices.”

The Right Scanner Found

Fortunately, Dr. Scott found a digital impression system that met all of his criteria in the CS 3500 intraoral scanner. The scanner is part of an open system, which is essential when it comes to working with Dr. Scott’s 3D printer from a third party vendor. Additionally, the CS 3500 is lightweight and isn’t tied to a proprietary computer system or trolley and can be easily carried from operatory to operatory. Scans are immediately converted into STL files without extra steps and require no click fees for acquisition or storage. As an added bonus, the scanner features interchangeable tips that can be sterilized in an autoclave.

“With one of the other vendors you had to use a brand new scanning tip for each patient, and that adds up,” Dr. Scott said. “There are times we can do five or six scans in a day; well, that’s $100 a day that you’re spending in material costs.”

After a scan, staff digitally submit cases to Dr. Scott for review. The scanner is paired with third-party software, which allows Dr. Scott to correct images before giving final approval and printing.

“The staff just include a note: ‘These three cases are ready for you to print.’ Dr. Scott said. “I can approve them and send them to the printer from home on the couch! That’s the ability of Carestream Dental and the open file concept.”

Saving Money, Saving Time

The CS 3500 is not only an intuitive tool that doctor and staff alike enjoy using, it also helps Dr. Scott save money by eliminating trays, alginate, pour-ups and lab work. After doing away with traditional impressions in his practice, Dr. Scott estimates that he saves $1,500-$2,000 a month. When comparing the price of materials to the investment of a scanner, Dr. Scott points out that “in the course of a year, you’ll easily save enough to pay for one scanner.”

Additionally, not being tied to time-consuming traditional impressions gives Dr. Scott and his staff more flexibility in scheduling.

“We used to stop taking impressions at 3:00-3:30 in the afternoon,” Dr. Scott said. “You had to take the impression, pour it up, take it apart, clean up, etc. Now, we can take a quick scan at a quarter to 5:00. If it’s just a simple upper scan for a retainer it takes the staff 15 minutes—there’s no set-up other than to make sure the patient’s name is spelled correctly in the computer.”

“Oh my gosh, you can do that?!”

Patients love the CS 3500 for the same reasons Dr. Scott and his staff do—digital impressions mean no “gooey” alginate and faster turnaround from impression to appliance.

Dr. Scott even offers his patients the added service of shipping retainers to patients who have lost appliances while out of town (on the condition the patient has been wearing the retainer consistently and there hasn’t been significant tooth movement). Since the digital impressions taken with the CS 3500 are stored in the patients electronic chart—“once it’s saved, it’s saved forever” Dr. Scott said—it’s easy for him to access the impressions and print a new retainer.

“I ask the patient on the phone, ‘Mom, where are you at?’ ‘Well, we’re actually in California right now.’ ‘No problem, I’ll print one up, I’ll FedEx it to you, you’ll have it by Friday. Let me transfer you to my front desk and they’ll take your credit card information,” Dr. Scott said. “‘Oh my gosh, you can do that?!’ is the typical reaction.”

In this digital age of online shopping, patients have come to expect this kind of quick turnaround and direct shipping; however they’re absolutely amazed to easily order retainers over the phone without having to set foot in the office.

Final Thoughts

As Dr. Scott sees it, traditional impressions cause service issues. Requiring busy patients to take time off of work or take children out of school to have another alginate impression taken— followed by the wait time associated with shipping models to lab to have an appliance fabricated— for a lost retainer is an inconvenience,

The CS 3500 has taken the mess out of impressions, allowing Dr. Scott to eliminate alginate from his practice. Not only that, the open architecture of the scanner allows him to combine the scanner with the 3D printer of his choosing. With digital impressions and an in-office printer, he’s able to offer “goo-free” impressions and faster turnaround from impression to appliance to his patients.

“We don’t even use alginate in the office anymore,” he said. “Oh wait, we have a desk plant that doesn’t get enough sunlight; we use an old tub of alginate powder to prop up the plant to get more light.”


About Dr. Scott

After graduating from Youngstown State University, Dr. Scott attended CWRU School of Dental Medicine. He continued on to his orthodontic specialization at SUNY at Buffalo and later became Board Certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. Dr. Scott maintains a private practice in Warren and Hudson, Ohio, and has been practicing orthodontics for over 27 years.

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