3D digital dentistry or three-dimensional digital dentistry is a new era in dentistry made possible due to advancements in 3D scanning, designing and printing technologies.

For years, dentists have relied on two-dimensional images and analog models, impression materials, hand waxed and designing techniques to deliver prosthesis for patients. This used to be the traditional workflow:

  • Taking an impression with an impression material in a tray.
  • Pouring plaster into this impression to get a model of the teeth.
  • Using wax to design the prosthesis and/or appliance.
  • Burning the wax and replacing it with ceramic and/or metals.
  • Polishing the prosthesis and/or appliance to fit onto the model.

At Stouffville SMILES Dentistry, we have jumped to the next chapter in medical technologies by incorporating all of the new advancements in designing and fabricating technologies into our practice. Let us break this down:

  • 3D scanning using an optical wand.
  • Designing the appliance and/or prosthesis using design software.
  • 3D printing and/or milling the prosthesis and/or appliance.

We utilize all of these technologies at our office including 3D radiography (CBCT or Cone-Beam Computed Tomography).

  • 3D Scanning
  • 3D Radiography
  • 3D Designing
  • 3D Printing

What are 3D x-rays necessary when my dentist has been using 2D x-rays for years?

As with any radiography, we always want to use the minimum dosage necessary to obtain a diagnosis. Dentists (and medical professionals) have, for years, relied on 2D imaging to get to a diagnosis. 2D x-rays miss an important perspective that is depth. We still rely on 2D imaging first before taking a 3D image to see depth and do so only when necessary. For example, when root canals fail, it is because the dentist is unable to find and fully clean a canal or a nerve. With 3D radiography we are able to see much more and hopefully find that missed canal and save the tooth.

What are the advantages of using 3D radiographs?

  • Finding missed canals or detecting abnormal root canal anatomy. – this leads to higher chance of saving a tooth.
  • Better surgical planning – using depth we are able to see exactly where nerves and other important anatomical structures are and reduce damage to them. We are also able to use guided surgical techniques to place implants faster, more accurately and with better results.
  • Detecting and identifying pathologies.

How does 3D radiography help in planning implants?

With 3D radiographs, we are able to see depth, manipulate the boney volume, visualize important anatomical structures and better plan our implant positioning and surgeries. We can also fabricate surgical guides to allow us to accurate position the implant where our 3D plan dictates.

2D implant planning
Traditional 2D Implant Planning
CBCT illustration
3D Implant Planning
Surgical Guide 3D Scanned Planned Printed
3D surgical guide

3D Scanning vs analog impressions?

3D scanning of the tissues of the mouth allows us to get a digital model that is an accurate representation of where the tissues are. The scanning is done using optical imaging technology and powerful computer algorithms that allow a small wand with cameras to measure depth, width, height and color of the tissue and map it. This allow us to use the digital 3D model to design and print in 3D. The wand is small and for those with a strong gag reflex, it makes it much easier. Also, if there is a problem with a part of the scanned data, we can easily just rescan that part without having to retake the full scan.

CS 3700: “Turbo” Speed Intraoral Scanning
3D Scanning Wand
3D scanned model
3D Scanned Model