Top 6 Intraoral Scanner Attributes That Matter Most to You

Intraoral scanners are the cornerstone for digital dentistry and the standard of care in modern practices. Investing in an intraoral scanner will help you save time and save costs while improving your overall patient experience. Regardless of if this is your first purchase of an intraoral scanner—or you are adding additional scanners—here are six attributes that you should look for during the selection process. 

As a combination of trueness and precision, accuracy continues to play a crucial role in intraoral selection. With so many accuracy claims, it is best to seek a scanner that has been proven to be a top performer in multiple studies conducted by an impartial third party.  It may also be beneficial to see how a scanner measures up against other competitive scanners in a controlled testing environment and control models. When considering accurate scanning options, you want to:

  • Look for studies that include multiple scanners being tested and where the testing methodologies were clearly stated
  • Seek studies that test the scanner over a range of situations, ex. edentulous spans or margin line distinctness

Ease of Use

Total intraoral scanning solutions should be easy and intuitive throughout the entire digital workflow. For this reason, consider choosing software that guides the user through the acquisition process.  Having integration capabilities can eliminate the need to double-enter patient demographic information. When considering intuitive scanners, you want to:

  • Seek software that provides guides or tips to help develop scanning proficiency quickly

  • Choose solutions that help identify deficiencies in the scan before the patient leaves the chair

  • Explore integration opportunities that reduce the double-entry of patient information

Open File System

Doctors indicated the most important attribute is truly open intraoral scanning systems that offer open access to the datasets and can be used in any third-party software. Look for intraoral scanners that:

  • Allow you to export open STL and PLY files for use in the third-party software of your choice

  • Has software that simplifies the export of the datasets and offers a range of options including color PLY files

  • Provide the lab with a complimentary viewer for color datasets if their design software cannot view the color PLY files

High Speed
When seeking a high-speed intraoral scanner, be certain to consider the size and weight of the scanner and the dimensions of the tip and verify that the speed improvement does not impact the resolution capability.  A faster scanning experience may come at the expense of a heavier scanner or a larger tip that may capture more data but could bring discomfort to your patients. It may also impact the overall quality of the scan.  When considering high-speed options, you want to:

  • Determine the benefit of speed improvement versus the weight of the scanner and whether the tip size impacts patient comfort

  • Verify that high-speed scanning does not impact the resolution and accuracy of the scan

  • Factor in the overall scan time including the processing of the dataset

It’s important to select an intraoral system that can easily manage the acquisition of a range of indications including the ability to digitally manufacture restorations, surgical guides, orthodontic appliances, orthodontic aligners, and sleep devices.  For practices wishing to take complete control of the fabrication process, it’s essential to select a scanner that offers both lab/manufacturer options and streamlined integrated chairside offerings.  When considering efficiency in intraoral scanners, you want to:

  • Look for systems that simplify the exchange of datasets via directly integrated portals

  • Seek solutions that allow you to work with the manufacturer or lab of your choice.

  • Choose systems the offer the flexibility for chairside or open lab/manufacturer functionality based on the needs or your practice

Ergonomics matter when using an integrating intraoral scanning into the patient workflow. Careful consideration of the practitioner’s daily experience with the scanner wand is key to continued scanning success.  To achieve optimal ergonomic results, you want to:

  • Seek scanner wands that allow you to hold the scanner how you prefer

  • Select systems that offer patient comfort, through a combination of high-speed scans with smaller tips

  • Choose systems which streamline the workflow, reducing unnecessary additional clicks

Intraoral scanners are more accurate, efficient, ergonomic, and intuitive than ever before. As with most technology, features can vary significantly with scanners, but these six attributes will ensure you maximize your investment. Intraoral scanners possess the flexibility to meet any dentist’s individual needs or desires, so don’t get left behind in the last century; make your first steps towards digital dentistry today!

Carestream Dental Blog Administrator Contributor


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