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Why you want an intraoral scanner that is well-connected with partners

Dr. Jan Paulics

Senior Clinical Specialist


Sending intraoral scans to labs has become relatively simple. What not everyone knows is that ‘sending’ does not equal full integration. Here’s what you need to look out for when assessing digital ecosystems of intraoral scanners.

1. Verify the connection with the lab

The differences between intraoral scanner brands and the way they connect can have a major impact on how you work with the lab. It’s the difference between having a seamless and smooth connection with your lab or having to export files and shift from computer to computer in your office. Depending on your IO maker, you may need to verify your connection with the lab beforehand.

An example. If you work from a platform for connecting with labs and partners that offers directories to find integrated labs, tailored and branded order forms, two-way communication options, one-click sending and more, you’ll have a completely different experience compared to when your scanner brand still requires exporting.

2. Verify that the scanner can deliver what your lab needs

We suggest finding an intraoral scanner brand that understands what your lab partner requires from you. In the end, the lab is your best friend. So, you want the data that you send them (the scan, contacts, occlusion, color, and case info) to be as actionable as possible.

Dr. Paulics’ Learning: Before you choose an intraoral scanner brand, investigate what type of sending platform they use. Ask your lab how they rate the scans and communications from that IO scanner maker.

Most labs will tell you that the impression, whether it’s analog or digital, is their biggest challenge. In an interview with CDT, Date Dobbs, he said for example, “3Shape TRIOS accuracy has basically eliminated remakes in our laboratory. And allows us to feel confident that every case is going to fit; contacts, occlusion and color.”

So again, the scanner maker and the type of sending platform they use matters very much.

3. Verify how you will communicate with your partners

tooth sign button

When contrasting digital and analog workflows, one of the biggest differences is in case communications. The idea that with digital, you, the dentist, and the lab can both be looking at the treatment proposal on a screen before it is even produced is a huge benefit. Likewise, the lab or your staff being able to tell you in real-time that your digital impression is not good enough before you push the ’Send’ button can save a ton of headaches - a benefit analog can never compete with.

CDT, Lee Culp says that: “Our results have never been better. And our communication is ultimate because we communicate in 3D and not just over the phone. Wherever I go in the world, I am always connected to dentistry, digitally.” Adding, “To have all that information in a laboratory, just joins me with the doctor and patient so much closer.”

4. Verify if and how you can send cases to treatment solution partners

This is one of the areas where we see a difference between intraoral scanner brands. Some intraoral scanner brand makers also offer treatment solutions. With their own treatment solution, they may connect seamlessly but if you choose to work with a different treatment provider, it may mean exporting an .STL file and sending it to the treatment provider. In other words, they make it as difficult as possible to choose another treatment solution.

This is a good reason to pick an intraoral scanner with an open philosophy. It’s about choices. But it is also about how eagerly the intraoral scanner company is willing to integrate with partners.

Dr. Paulics’ Learning: Integrating two companies’ solutions is a lot more involved than it sounds. Be sure to check how hard the intraoral scanner provider will work to create a seamless integration with the partners you want to work with.

For example, if you work with Henry Schein’s Patient Management System, how will you ensure that those data are aligned with your scanner data about the patient? Or those from clear aligner brands such as ClearCorrect or SureSmile? Or Ivoclar Vivadent’s dental applications for dentists and dental technicians? Or the Straumann Group’s clear aligner, implant, prosthetic solutions, and services?

An open philosophy means that your scanner provider and their partners are always seeking to provide new treatment opportunities.

5. Verify that lab connectivity goes both ways

In most current digital systems, the connectivity to labs is one-dimensional, i.e., practices can connect to one lab in their system and the lab of choice will be represented with a name and contact information, which in most cases will be just an email address.

In a platform environment, a number of labs (hundreds or even thousands) are shown in a directory. Practices have the freedom to choose to connect with any number of labs from the directory by just downloading the lab app to their profile.

Think of it as a lab-as-an-app scenario: the platform offers labs the space and opportunity to promote their business with images, descriptions, videos, a list of customized services and offerings, as well as geographical reach. Once the lab app is downloaded, the connection is instant, and the business relationship is established. The practices can now work in a seamless way with the app of the desired lab.

My personal experience with our own platform

For instance, in the case of 3Shape’s new platform Unite, if I as a dentist want to send TRIOS Smile Design cases to the lab, I can work directly in the 3Shape case manager – Dental Manager. Due to the two-way communication within the platform, labs can be involved in the case before they receive the files and make sure that the files received are optimal.


Looking for a connected intraoral scanner?

3Shape Unite is the new platform used by 3Shape TRIOS. It brings the world’s leading dental companies, dental laboratories, and treatment solutions together under a new and growing collaborative platform for dental professionals.

The 3Shape Unite platform enables 3Shape TRIOS users to manage all their cases and digital workflows with open choices and ease - from their initial TRIOS scan to treatment completion.

About Dr. Jan Paulics

Dr. Jan Paulics

Senior Clinical Specialist


Dr. Jan Paulics received his DDS from Karolinska Institute, Stockholm in 1993. He has practiced in both municipal and private dental clinics specializing in implant surgery and dentoalveolar surgery – with a focus on prosthetic driven surgery using digital planning tools and surgical guides for the past 10 years. Jan is currently an Application Specialist at 3Shape. He continues to lecture for implant manufacturers and dental laboratories.

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