Should You Buy an Intraoral Scanner?
All thanks to advanced technology, intraoral scanners for digital impressions are not what they used to be. They are, in fact, becoming the standard of care today. If you are thinking of purchasing one, here are some of the factors that you need to consider:
Closed Systems vs. Selectively/Completely Open Systems
Most systems that were used originally were closed. With a closed system, scans taken had a pathway predetermined by the system used. For instance, CEREC scans went directly to the CEREC milling system, thus leaving dentists with no choice about where the scans should be sent.
Selectively open systems, on the other hand, evolved because the limitations of closed systems brought upon frustrations, and competitors saw the opportunity to license partners into their new systems. The thing with open systems is that one facility would receive the file from the dentist, design and mill the restoration, and in a few days, deliver the completed restoration. This system allows for different material options and restorative possibilities, while at the same time, limiting competition. In other words, the system remained open but in a way, selective.
Completely open systems let you send files to almost any service that has the ability to receive them. These systems generally make you the captain of restorative options and planning process. However, not all systems are completely open even today, so it is important to research all of the systems you are considering.
Ease of Use
One of the biggest questions you should ask when buying an intraoral scanner is “Can it be used?” If you cannot use your intraoral scanner, say, 30% of the time because it is difficult to capture an image due to its wand size or how wide a patient can open their mouth for an image, the tendency is that you will not use the intraoral scanner.
Some systems, however, are user-friendly. Some systems might require you to view the screen while you scan, and other systems might require you to watch the wand as you scan, and then view the screen before confirming and sending the file. There are some scanners that come with bells and whistles, but if you do not expect to use them, the extra cost may not be worthwhile.
Virtually-speaking, every system is accurate, more than traditional impression materials. Manufacturers have a written analysis of their intraoral scanners’ accuracy. When you are reading about accuracy, you have to make sure that the accuracy of the length of the scan is indicated. For example, you should find out about how accurate a full-arch scan is compared to a scan of 20mm.
Warranties and Service
Keep in mind that warranties and service are extremely important. It is worth paying a bit more when you know that you are working with a reliable service company. Oftentimes, a warranty is included for one year with the option to extend it for another year or two. Most systems have warranties that last for up to three years, and the updates are usually included, though not always. Make sure to not overlook this and compare your options first. Intraoral scanner wands are extremely sensitive and they require constant disinfection; make sure to follow the protocols accordingly.
It is recommended to have a couple of live demonstrations. This can be a bit challenging to coordinate due to HIPAA, a possible lack of trial systems in the area, the need for disinfection, and/or setting up a convenient schedule, but you may insist on it, or at least watch a dentist you know who is working with one.
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