PLATTSBURGH — It’s out with the old and in with digital at the Plattsburgh Dental Group.
Conventional impressions of crowns, bridges and Invisalign (custom-teeth straighteners) are passé. No more rubbery goop or plaster since the January installation of iTero, an intra-oral scanner, which takes a digital impression of a patient’s teeth and bite. Think a 3-D image of the topography behind your lips.
The price tag for the iTero was $30,000, but the custom fit and savings in time and adjustments are well worth it in Dr. C. Thomas Gerner’s estimation.
“We take an impression but optically,” he said.
He demonstrated by having the computer direct the machine to take a picture of a specific tooth for a crown.
“It takes an impression in three dimensions. We can email that impression to the laboratory as opposed to making an actual impression,” Gerner said. “With the traditional method, the impression material distorted. Now, we get a representation of the teeth, and it’s perfectly accurate.”
Several hundred patients have already benefited from the new technology.
“Because we email the info to the lab, the lab starts working on the crown before the patient leaves the office. It’s pretty amazing. The results we’re getting are better than I’ve ever seen. We save time seating the crown. They fit so precisely. They don’t require the adjustment we used to have to do,” he said.
Gerner also dropped $100,000 on a Vatech PaX-Duo3D, a two-in-one digital-radiography system, which provides a true digital pan as well as Computed Tomography imaging. The price of Computed Tomography has come down enough so a dental office like Plattsburgh Dental Group can afford its own.
“A traditional panoramic x-ray flattens out your face,” Gerner said. “We needed to get a digital panoramic. The previous one we had was 30 years old. We had to develop film. With digital technology, we can get something much faster and precise. We don’t have to bother with film.”