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What is a 3D scan for Invisalign?

What is a 3D dental scan and why is it useful for Invisalign patients? Our Edmonton dentists explain this technology, why it's used and what you can expect from the process. 

Your dentist has told you that you'll need a 3D dental scan so they can show you what your smile might look like after your Invisalign treatment. You're likely wondering if this process is similar to how an X-ray and other images of your mouth are taken, what your dentist will learn by scanning your mouth and how this procedure will affect you. Our Edmonton dentists offer some answers in this post. 

What is a 3D Invisalign dental scan?

If your goal is to have straighter teeth, one of your first questions to your dentist may be about what your smile could look like once you've completed Invisalign treatment. After all, you want to understand the trajectory of your treatment and how reaching expected milestones may affect the appearance of your teeth. You'd also like to know how your hard work may pay off. 

Thanks to digital 3D scanning and modeling technology, we're able to show you. 

To capture detailed images of your teeth, gums and jaw, our dentists use an iTero Digital 3D scanner. With this scanning technology, your dentist can take a full scan of your mouth, including your teeth (and their exact length, width and height), muscles and nerves, in under 5 minutes. With this technology, up to 6,000 images per second can be captured.

This eliminates the need for messy and uncomfortable impression clay or molds. It also makes it possible to create virtual models of your mouth so your Invisalign clear aligners can be custom-made to fit your teeth. These images can be compared to CAT scans, offering an in-depth picture of your oral health. 

Why would I need a 3D Invisalign scan?

By leveraging Invisalign 3D dental scanning technology, our dentists can more easily and effectively assess orthodontic health issues and diagnose concerns. You'll be able to see what your teeth - and your smile - will look like over the course of your Invisalign treatment.

Plus, since your clear aligners are designed to adjust your teeth incrementally, it's important that they fit properly from the start, for both comfort and to ensure your treatment progresses as it should. 

Both you and your dentist will be able to see what needs to be done to achieve the results you are aiming for - an important point when discussing planning for a long-term commitment to orthodontic treatment, which likely involves a significant investment in terms of effort, time and financial planning. Because you'll be able to see your dental issues from your dentist's perspective, you'll have the same understanding and may have an easier time working together and making decisions about moving forward with treatment.

After your dentist initially reviews the images with you, he or she can email to them so you'll have them for reference, and share them with other dental professionals and third-party providers if required. 

Reasons to Use a 3D Digital Scanner

  • Versatility (entire head or a specific area of the oral cavity can be scanned)
  • Reduced radiation
  • Ability to create 3D models 
  • No need for messy trays, mold or clay
  • 3D data from multiple scans can be combined to produce accurate, detailed 3D images

What can I expect?

When you come in for your appointment, one of our dental team members will lead you to a room with the iTero Digital 3D scanner, where you'll be asked to remove any glasses, hearing aids or jewelry before your dentist starts the procedure. 

The dentist will then ask you to sit in a chair and rest your head on a chin rest (you can be sure that the scanner has been thoroughly sanitized before your visit to keep everyone safe). The scanner is also accessible and can be used with anyone who has disabilities.

Once you're situated and comfortable, the dentist will turn on the scanner, which will do a 360-degree rotation around your head. On either side of the 3D scanner are two "arms" used to capture images of your skull, teeth and gums from multiple angles. 

Both optical and radiation-free laser imaging technologies are used to scan your mouth. the entire iTero scanning process may take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The laser renders an accurate, 3D digital impression of your teeth and the structures of your soft tissues. You'll be able to follow the progress of your dental 3d scan by watching a computer monitor.  

Once the dentist starts the scanning process, it can be paused and restarted as many times as necessary. Since this scanning technology produces digital data, your dentist can enlarge, rotate and zoom in on the images to show you how your smile may change with treatment. 

Ultimately, a 3D scan can play an integral role in helping your dentist to assess your dental health and plan your Invisalign treatment. 

Do you have questions about Invisalign and whether you may be a candidate? Contact our Edmonton dentists. We are always happy to answer inquiries or address concerns.

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