I was recently invited by my orthodontist to have my teeth scanned to keep a digital record on file so that retainers can be manufactured in the future without the need to undergo more alginate impressions. This will also mean that if I lose my retainers and can’t get to my orthodontist in a reasonable amount of time, new retainers will be made from the finished result recorded on the system rather than impressions from my teeth which may have moved.

I have previously described the scanning process when this was demonstrated on me by the team from the London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic and from a patients perspective, found this to be much more agreeable than alginate impressions. The scanner is gently held above your teeth and the therapist or nurse undertaking the scan slowly moves it across all the teeth surfaces as an image is recorded on the computer running the scanning software. What continues to impress me is just how detailed and accurate this scan is. How does the scanner measure distance and position in relation to other teeth? I guess this commercially quite sensitive but would love to learn more about how this technology works.

When the scan is complete, the therapist is able to manipulate the 3D image of your teeth to check nothing has been missed then at the press of a button, the software processes the image and turns it into what looks like a stone cast of your teeth as if you had just had impressions taken. This is the image above and is the one used to create the models from which retainers are made.

In the next post on this topic, I will describe the new retainers produced from this digital system and compare them to the ones created from the alginate impressions taken when my braces were first removed.