What Digital Dentistry Means for Dental Implants

Taking Dental Implants to the Next Level

Advancements in digital technologies are fundamentally changing the game in the field of cosmetic dentistry. Specifically, the move from multi-source, third-party vendors and prosthetics makers to an integrated in-house solution has yielded fantastic results for dental professionals and patients alike. Repairing and replacing missing teeth with dental implants is now easier, faster, and more cost-effective than ever.

In particular, two important technologies shaking up the cosmetic dentistry industry are fully-digital intraoral scanners and dental-grade 3D printing technology. Digital intraoral scanners, such as CEREC (which stands for Ceramic Reconstruction) developed by Sirona and the 3Shape TRIOS intraoral scanner eliminate fussy analog impression trays and digitize the entire model-making workflow. With the help of advanced machine AI, extremely detailed 3D models can be generated from scanning data, manipulated, and modified on demand. Meanwhile, Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) 3D printing equipment and on-site 3D i-CAT scanning technology provide dental clinics like Willow Pass Dental Care the ability to customize treatment planning to craft custom prosthetics in-house, on-demand, and in real-time in our own Dental Implant Lab.

Here’s how digital technologies are making the dental implant process easier, faster, and more comfortable for patients.

i-Cat 3D scanner with Willow Pass Dental Care staff and patient
i-Cat 3D scanner
i-Cat 3D scanner with patient
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4 Changes in Digital Dentistry That Have Changed Dental Implants

1. Easier and More Comfortable

Patients and doctors alike should breathe a sigh of relief with the introduction of digital dentistry workflows. For starters, messy analog impressions will give way to faster and more comfortable digital ones. Advanced intraoral scanners allow dentists to record multiple bite positions and occlusal contacts in order to take into account patient-specific articulations. Dentists needn’t worry about inaccurate, fussy physical impressions and patients can rest easy knowing that their replacement teeth will fit perfectly in their mouth. Skipping the traditional “goo” makes the crucial process of taking impressions for the fabrication of dental prosthetics more precise, more comfortable, and a much better experience for all involved.

2. Faster. Way Faster.

In the past, oral doctors and dentists depended on outside laboratories and manufacturers to fabricate dental prosthetics. The process of coordinating third-party vendors, shipping a physical impression, actual fabrication, and mailing of the finished prosthetic back to the clinic was a process that could take days to weeks. This meant that patients would not only have to make multiple appointments but would often also have to get by for a few days or weeks without replacement teeth or with temporary prosthetics. Digital, in-house fabrication completely eliminates this time-consuming part of the dental implant process. Cutting edge dental clinics now have advanced digital fabrication equipment designed specifically for the creation of dental prosthetics in their own in-clinic laboratories. That means fabrication of the final replacement teeth can actually occur chairside. Not only does this eliminate the need to make multiple appointments, but on-demand fabrication also condenses the entire timeline of the dental implant process. No more waiting for your final teeth and a final fitting.

3. More Cost Effective

A streamlined digital workflow has enormous savings in terms of time and money. Not only can dental clinics bypass the need to outsource direct fabrication to third-party vendors, but they can also dramatically condense their dental implant schedules. A procedure that once took multiple appointments and fittings now potentially only requires a single appointment. That saves time and money for dental clinics and patients.

4. A Superior Patient Experience

The most important benefit of the switch to digital dentistry workflows is a drastically improved patient experience. Now, patients don’t have to put up with gooey impression trays or uncomfortable prodding and posing just to create an impression. That can now be done digitally. Better yet, once the digital model is created, it can be modified and edited with immense precision and no additional input from patients. That makes the creation process more accurate and greatly reduces the risk that a newly-created prosthetic will not fit correctly. Better precision leads to better results and outcomes, better longevity of the implants themselves, and superior patient satisfaction.

Today's Dental Implant Workflow: Old vs. New

Dental implants have always been the gold standard when it comes to replacing damaged or missing teeth short of salvaging natural teeth. Unlike non-implant-based solutions, dental implants provide a bevy of health and functional benefits including the prevention of bone resorption and a superior mouthfeel. However, the old dental implant process used to take weeks or even months.


The Old Dental Implant Process

The old dental implant process could be quite lengthy from end to end. The actual implantation procedure itself, including surgical preparations, extractions, and placement of implants could be completed in a single appointment. However, fabrication of the actual prosthetic usually took days or weeks. Unfortunately, this left patients and dentists with a period of time in which they were stuck waiting for the final prosthetic to arrive.

The Old Dental Implantation Process

1st. Appointment

  • Initial Consultation

  • Physical Impressions (Multiple "Goo Trays")

2nd. Appointment

  • Dental Implant Surgery

  • Temporary Prosthetics

3rd. Appointment

  • Final Appointment & Final Fitting

  • Follow-up Appointments for Adjustments (optional)

The New Dental Implant Process

The introduction of rapid real-time intraoral scanning, in-house CAD/CAM fabrication and fully-digitized dental modeling completely revolutionized key aspects of the traditional dental implant process. Digitization of analog impressions and on-demand, in-house fabrication means that the steps that required the most time in the past are now much faster.

First Appointment

  • 1

    Initial Consultation

  • 2

    Digital Impressions (Intraoral Scanning)

  • 3

    Real-time Digital Modelling

  • 4

    Dental Implant Surgery & Simultaneous Chairside Prosthetic Fabrication

  • 5

    Final Fitting

  • 6

    Follow-up Appointments for Adjustments (optional)

How Patients Benefit from Digital Dentistry

  • Fewer appointments

  • More comfortable

  • No more "goo"

  • Immediate prosthetics

Thanks to digital scanning and fabrication technology, dental clinics are able to take back the means of production thereby reducing potential long-term costs. In effect, moving fabrication equipment in-house cuts out the entire ecosystem of middlemen laboratories and vendors. Better yet, total digitization of the modeling process from the taking of digital impressions to the creation of actual prosthetic teeth from a digital model greatly reduces the potential for mistakes to happen in translation.

Digitization also allows for rapid prototyping giving clinics more flexibility to address potential issues regarding the fit and finish of a patient’s final prosthetics. Ultimately, digitization leads to better patient outcomes, and higher customer satisfaction and patient trust.