What is a Dental Health Scan?
A “Dental Health Scan” is a 3-D image of the mouth that captures tooth structure and tissues by use of a digital laser sensor that takes thousands of small pictures. The pictures are then “stitched” together creating an accurate representation of the mouth. The scan allows dental professionals to look at a person’s occlusion ( how the teeth fit together) showing any signs of trauma; wear patterns; loss of bone and tissue; and faulty restorations to name a few. It could almost be considered a map of the mouth. It is an excellent tool for documentation and to educate patients.
In every medical office patients have “records” that include numerous pieces of information including x-rays, test/test results, vitals etc. In the dental field, we also have necessary records for each patient which include medical history, X-rays, periodontal probing measurements, a dental chart of existing dental work, intraoral photos, notes from other providers and sometimes teeth models. All are necessary for monitoring health and allowing for making health or dental recommendations. In our office, we are excited to now have the capability to take Dental Health Scans to add to your dental records.
I want to have a Dental Health scan, how much does it cost?
Our office is working towards having a scan for every patient. It’s minimally invasive, no x-rays involved and it costs nothing.
Are Dental Health Scans easier than taking impressions with that dental gagging “goop”?
Two years ago, our office purchased an iTerro scanner to help us with our venture into offering Invisalign to our patients. We have utilized the scanner for Invisalign and more recently for restorative work as well which has opened up a lot of opportunities for us and our patients. We have been able to take 3-D scans for many patients, eliminating the need for taking the dreaded impressions. Oftentimes, this allows a quicker turn around for certain lab cases which is convenient for our patients.
How are Dental Health Scans used in codiscovery?
We now take dental health scans for all of our new patients. The detail and the accuracy of the 3-D image are SO beneficial in educating patients as to what is going on in their mouth right now. We have the ability to colorize the image to show gum tissue as well which is helpful for both the patient and us. In the past, we have been able to show patients x rays but unless you’re skilled in reading 2-D x rays, it often is like trying to read an unknown language. We also take photos for our patients which is helpful as well but the 3-D iTerro scan is the best tool we have yet. The patients are intrigued and impressed by the dental health scans.
Technology has come so far that we now have the capability to fabricate a “smile” without ever picking up a drill. We can make a “test drive” smile from our Dental Health Scan which is temporary, allowing the patient to see what their smile would look like before permanently altering their teeth. It gives the patient the opportunity to be an active participant in deciding what they like, or do not like, and being able to change it before the work is done.
Will Dental Health Scans become the standard of care?
While at a ReIngage continuing education in December 2019, Dr. Galler who first introduced the term “Dental Health Scan”. We don’t know if the term will catch on, but we’re sure these concepts will remain, and become the standard of care.
Kim is registered dental hygienist currently working at Seasons of Smiles in Camden, Maine. She graduated from University College in Bangor. She also holds an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration through the University of Southern Maine.