When it comes to traditional impressions, I look at it from a customer service perspective. Impressions are time-consuming, messy, uncomfortable and don’t do much for improving doctor/patient relationships. However, as an orthodontist, impressions are a necessity for almost every patient who walks through my door.
I wanted way to set my practice apart; eliminate messy alginate impressions, and cut back on wait times for receiving appliances from labs. I’ve done that by pairing an intraoral scanner with a 3D printer right in my office. I’m now able to offer my patients the kind of customer experience they’ve come to expect in this modern, digital world.
Traditional impressions were affecting how we scheduled patients. The time-consuming process of pouring up molds and waiting for them to dry meant that no one wanted to start a traditional impression late in the afternoon. However, with an intraoral scanner, my staff can complete an upper scan for a retainer within 15 minutes. That opens up more appointment options in the afternoon for patients.
A Comfortable Patient Experience
Let’s face it, taking in impression is not only a pain for the staff but uncomfortable for patients. A digital scanner, on the other hand, captures images to create a digital impression and eliminates the need to fill my patients’ mouths with gooey impression material. Plus, with two different sized scanner heads—standard and a smaller tip of children or adults with small mouths—I can customize the experience even more to my patients’ comfort levels.
If there is an issue when I take a scan—say, I’ve missed a back molar—all it takes is a quick glance at the computer screen to realize there’s an issue. I can go back and rescan the area immediately. Compare that to having to take a whole new alginate impression, which takes up even more of my staff and patients’ time. Also, my scanner is part of an open system that allows it to work with my 3D printer so I can print appliances on my own terms and in my own time; there’s no need to ship stone models to a lab, which cuts out yet another time-consuming step in the traditional impression workflow.
I’ve often had patients lose retainers while on vacation. With a quick phone call to my front desk, a patient can order another appliance (barring any significant tooth movement). Since the patient’s impression is saved on my computer, I simply pull up their file and fabricate a new retainer using my in-office 3D printer. I will then happily ship it to anywhere FedEx delivers. I believe it’s as close to orthodontic “online shopping” as you can get.
With my open-system intraoral scanner and 3D printer, I’ve been able to provide my patients with the kind of customer service that sets my practice apart. Digital impressions are a faster, cleaner, more comfortable experience, and my 3D printer lets me fabricate retainers on-demand, with no wait time from a lab. If you’d like to learn more about my selection process for the intraoral scanner, how it integrates with my 3D printer and the cost-savings it has provided, read the business case study.