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What you need to know before buying an intraoral scanner

USA-based, Dr. John Heimke is one of seven hand-picked dentists from around the world honored as a member of the Oral Design International Foundation. Dr. Heimke shares what he believes you should consider before going digital with an intraoral scanner.

1. Check Your IT Infrastructure

Number one, you need to assess the technology in your office. Bring in your IT company so they can evaluate your technology needs. Also, when talking with the scanner company, have them consider, along with your IT company, that you have all the right specs involved. If your technology is five generations back, it’s probably not going to be a fit.

When you add an IO scanner, you’re also going to need to integrate the scans into your workflows. So, you need to consider how compatible the file outputs from the scanner you’ve chosen are with the design and production software you or your production partners use. Is the scanner going to help you to scale the services that you offer patients? Some systems are closed, some open. What kind of material and manufacturer’s solutions will it integrate with? You need to first consider these questions or choose a system that you know from the start, is open and scalable.

2. Assess Your Scanner Needs

Two, you’re going to have to find out what kind of footprint you want from the intraoral scanner. Do you want a big cart, or a small mobile cart with a laptop? Do you want a corded versus an uncorded intraoral scanner? Do you want color or mono? The only way you are going to be able to do that is by having a rep come in and let you demo different units. Alternatively, go to a show and try different scanners.

"Once you have decided on adding an intraoral scanner to your practice, I believe you should first consider some important points."

Dr. John Heimke

3. Learn To Use An Intraoral Scanner

Thirdly, you have to talk to your team and explain to them that this is where you want to be going. There’s going to be an implementation process. With this type of technology, because it is a core technology in dentistry, it has to become routine for you and the team. The only way to do that is use it daily. You and your team need to commit.

You know, my practice is still evolving on this. It’s not going to happen in a month. It’s going to take a little time. It’s just like dentistry in the analog world when you had to take many analog impressions to become skilled at what you do, it works the same way. You learn to do it in a process. What we did, for example, was to start taking diagnostic impressions on every new patient. And then we evolved into taking impressions on single units. And then you can move to taking final impressions for larger arch cases.

Remember, if you have to take an analog impression, you can always take both an analog impression and a wireless impression in the beginning. Eventually, you’ll end up dropping the analog and just go digital, believe me.

You need to commit. And you need to commit to practicing. It’s just like going to the gym and exercising. You’re building muscle. So, you need to scan on a regular basis. If you do it sporadically you will never achieve the necessary skills to produce excellent intraoral scans.

4. Practice On Team Members And Watch Videos

You can practice on static models. You can practice on team members. Go to the internet; YouTube is a great place. You can get scan strategies made by 3Shape. I review those on a monthly basis, actually. Just because I want it to be totally ingrained in my head on how to do that. These instructional videos are quite helpful. They’re not super long. And then you just kind of work off that. Just like anything these days: if I want to fix my car because I have a problem, I can look on YouTube and find anything to do. 3Shape has done the same thing with instructional videos. It’s like a paper manual, only better, because everybody loves looking at a video and you can learn quickly that way.

One of the greatest advantages of going digital is that basically, it lets us carry the design all the way through the treatment sequence. From the consultation down to the planning, down to the motivation of the patient, to prototype, to the final-end result. Your files are digital, so everything you do is digital, stable, and predictable.

5. Inform And Involve Your Lab

So lastly, if you have a lab, you must speak with them first before you purchase an intraoral scanner. Find out if they are digital-ready to work with its IO scans.

My practice is very fortunate because our laboratory really loves digital impressions because of the efficiency they enable. They make our workflow so much faster. We use Oral Design Laboratory, Pinhas Adar out of Atlanta, and Peter Kouvaris in Manhattan. So even though I am based in Ohio, they receive my cases in a matter of minutes, instead of days. The preciseness of the results, the digital models are amazing. They are so superior to the analog that it’s just a natural evolution we are seeing. Our work is better than ever before. Analog is always going to be there, but with digital, you’re more efficient, much more precise, and with your human touch, you make smiles come alive.

About Dr. John Heimke

John Heimke DMD General Dentistry is an accomplished Cosmetic - Implant Dentist with over 30 years of experience. Dr Heimke is private solo restorative practice in Cleveland, Ohio, USA . He is known for his exceptional talents and unique skill sets in creating, Amazing - Natural Smiles. Emphasizing “The Human Touch” to make the smile come “Alive” He utilizes Facial Aesthetic-Oral Design, Digital Smile Design, and Digital Dentistry. He is an expert in Emotional Dentistry, "The Aging Smile”, Smile Makeovers, Full Mouth Reconstruction, via Porcelain Veneers, Crowns, Bridges, Dental Implants, Full Arch Implant-Monolithic Zirconia Bridge, and Dentures.

Dr. John Heimke is a 1989 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, earning his degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). He also earned a graduate degree, Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Emory University. His Residency: Advanced Education Program in General Dentistry was completed at Ft. Benning, Ga., while serving in the U.S. Army Medical Department as a Captain. Dr. Heimke is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, and Fellow of The Pierre Fauchard Academy. Dr Heimke in October 2019 was inducted into the prestigious Oral Design International Foundation by founder Master Ceramist Mr. Willi Geller, in Zurich, Switzerland. DentalXp Expert and Lecturer. He is a DSD Master/Instructor. Visiting faculty NYU FMR. He is a lecturer on Smile De-sign, Cosmetic Dentistry, Digital Dentistry Full Arch Implants, Marketing, Consults, and Case Acceptance. Dr. Heimke has been highlighted in numerous media, to include, TV, Radio, and Print. He is a visionary, teacher, international and national lecturer, and humanitarian.