TRAVERSE CITY — Ronald Lints’ patients no longer have to bite a tray of pink goo in order to give the orthodontist an impression of their teeth.
They just open wide and let him take a 3-D picture of every toothy groove.
“It saves time, money and frustration,” said Lints, who practices in Traverse City.
Lints purchased an iTero machine, or intra oral digital scanner, last year. The machine takes a continuous digital image of patients’ mouths, then uses those images to build 3-D models Lints can use to order Invisalign products that move teeth into place, or make retainers and bite splints.
It’s an expensive upgrade – the Itero machine costs around $25,000 and requires sophisticated computers to run the equipment – but Lints said it’s worth it for improved accuracy and patient comfort.
Lisa Siddall’s patients also see new technology when they visit her Lake Leelanau office.
Siddall uses a CEREC machine, or Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, to make 3-D models of patients’ mouths, then carve a crown right in the office.
“In a half-hour you have a super strong, beautiful crown,” Siddall said. “You can stain it or glaze it; it’s gorgeous. You put it in and it fits like a glove. There’s no adjusting and then the patient’s done.”
The old method of fitting a crown usually takes two weeks and requires two appointments, sometimes more if patients’ temporary crowns break while they’re waiting for the permanent one. Those permanent crowns sometimes don’t fit.
“There’s a lot of room for error in the impression taking, but with CEREC technology you basically cut the tooth, take a scan of the area, scan the arch, then we can actually scan the opposing arch and the teeth that mesh against it,” Siddall said. “You get this very accurate 3-D representation of where you’re working.”