Digital scanner – which one to buy and why?

Ashish Parmar explains how the decision to purchase an digital scanner for his practice was one of the best decisions he has made.

My practice is a very technologically advanced dental practice – we have a cone beam CT scanner, T Scan (in my opinion, the best occlusion software equipment in the world), Joint Vibration Analysis or JVA (equipment to assess the temporomandibular joints), soft and hard tissue lasers, etc. I have been thinking about getting a digital scanner for the last year or so. However, I was not sure which one to buy, and also I kept waiting, thinking that a better version will come out next year.

What really made me make up my mind to purchase one was that last year I had a few posterior crowns that were not fitting accurately. This was despite taking good silicone putty and wash two-stage impressions in the normal way I had done for years, and the fact that I was using a great dental laboratory. This made me start to investigate digital scanners. I then went to a digital dental exhibition with my technician Rob Storrar, with an open mind to look at different digital scanners. With my limited research up to that point, the top two options appeared to be 3Shape Trios and Itero.

At the dental exhibition, I was amazed to see the progress that digital dentistry was making. I looked at both the scanners that I was interested in. My main criteria included:

  1. The best scanner for restorative dentistry, and accuracy of laboratory-made restorations
  2. The scanner with the best research and development, and track record
  3. What top dentists were saying
  4. A scanner that had great features.

I arranged for demonstrations at the practice for both the scanners. These went really well. The Itero is a good option if a practice is doing a lot of Invisalign cases. The digital scan of a person’s upper and lower teeth can be taken, and in a short time a simulation can be created of the straightened teeth. This can have a tremendous marketing benefit in showing the patient his or her own teeth in 3D.

In the end, I was confident that buying the 3Shape Trios scanner was the best decision for me. The system is well designed, intuitive to use, fast, accurate and is technologically the best (from what I can tell that is currently available on the market). I purchased the scanner with the wired connectivity (there is a new wireless version available). I chose to buy it through Henry Schein due to the excellent advice and service/aftercare that I received.

Henry Schein also arranged the financing for me in a seamless way, which was a big advantage. I bought the scanner on a cart, which can be moved from one room to another; the alternative is a more portable pod version.

How the scanner has helped

Having had the scanner for three months, I am really excited about it. It is probably one of the best decisions I have made in terms of purchasing a piece of equipment. My main uses of the scanner at present are as follows:

  1. Diagnostic scan for a new patient – amazing for patient education, explanation and having a record so that study models can be made if required. Patients are really impressed with the technology
  2. Digital impressions – I have already fitted numerous crowns, inlays and smile makeover cases (eight-10 units of porcelain). The fits are very accurate clinically, and interestingly the digital models seem synchronous with analogue models (as I am doing an in-house study of my first 25 smile makeover cases). Once again, patients are highly appreciative not to have impressions (if they have a strong gag reflex) – this is a big practice builder
  3. Invisalign communication – we offer Invisalign, and digital scans are great for communication with the patient and the dental laboratory for the creation of accurate scans for superior fitting Invisalign aligners
  4. Scans as records to monitor wear and gum disease – it is a great idea to take annual scans for patients who may be wearing their teeth down from attrition/erosion. The scans can be aligned and a very precise rate of wear can be defined. In a similar way, if there is tooth movement and gingival recession, then this can be tracked as well
  5. Checking my preparations – I can take a quick scan to analyse my teeth preparations and review margins, undercuts, inter-occlusal space, etc. The scanner allows you to zoom in and look at details very close up – something I cannot do in the mouth. This is proving to give me ideal tooth preparations and better fitting crowns and veneers (with minimal or no adjustments at the fitting stage)
  6. Scans for completed comprehensive cases – a patient that has had a smile makeover or extensive work should have a post-operative scan. In this way I have detailed information of the shapes of the new restorations. This is useful in case a restoration fractures in the future and I need to know the exact shape of the new one to create
  7. My courses – I am now using the 3D scanner on my three-day and eight-day hands-on courses. Dentists are amazed at the results we are getting! Have a look at to find out more.

I am getting quicker at taking the digital scans. The technique is easy, but it takes practise (as with anything) to get faster and better. I am using this also as a great marketing tool to get good quality new patients to the practice. I have a detailed marketing plan for 2018 that includes online activity, social media, e-newsletters, etc.

In summary, I am confident that this is the way dentistry is going. There will never be a right or wrong time to buy a digital scanner. My honest advice is to look into digital dentistry seriously, and if you can afford to buy a digital scanner via financing it to make it affordable, then go for it. 3Shape Trios has got some amazing features coming out in 2018, to excite patients and increase treatment acceptance. I am happy for a dentist to visit me at our practice and see our set up and find out more about digital dentistry. To arrange a demonstration of the 3Shape Trios scanner, contact your local Henry Schein sales consultant or email [email protected].

Register today! The Henry Schein Digital Symposium is taking place at the Park Plaza London Riverbank Hotel on 27-28 April 2018. For more information or to register visit, call the events team on 01634 877 599 or email [email protected].

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