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7 Things to Consider When Investing in an Intraoral Scanner

Find the right scanner for you by going over these simple questions.

September 7, 2022
Smile Bulletin Staff
Glidewell

So, you want to buy an intraoral scanner? Congratulations on making such an important decision! Investing in an intraoral scanner is one of the quickest ways to see improvements in your workflow and increase profit as well as patient satisfaction. However, there is a plethora of intraoral scanners currently available on the market. With so many choices, how do you know which one is the right one for you?

There are several factors that you should consider when choosing what scanner is right for your practice. Price and scanning speed are obvious features to consider. But what about the more complicated features such as available CAD/CAM software, customer support, and ease of use? These are all things you need to think about before purchasing a scanner, especially if you want to progress in digital dentistry and offer same-visit restorations.

This blog post highlights seven crucial considerations to help you choose the right intraoral scanner, starting an internal conversation that will hopefully illuminate your path towards a digital workflow.

1. What are the Benefits of a Scanner?

Perhaps the biggest question to ask yourself when shopping for an intraoral scanner is why. Why do you want one? Are they worth the time and financial investment? What benefits do they present? Here are some of the most notable benefits to owning a scanner:

Increase Profit

Adopting an intraoral scanner is the first, most important step you can take to becoming a digital practice. They are easy to use and, depending on the lab you send impressions to, can reap immediate savings when sending in impressions. These savings are tied to eliminating outbound shipping fees and cutting down on physical impression materials. Some labs even offer discounts on restorations when impressions are sent via intraoral scanner, further enhancing your profit margins and cutting down on costs.

Save Time

Picture this scenario: You take your patient’s impressions using physical materials, then send the impressions to the lab and wait for the restoration only to get a call saying your impressions are slightly off and you need to send new one. Now you have to call your patient, bring them back for another appointment, resend the impressions, and wait for the restorations to arrive.

When using intraoral scanners, you can view the impressions as you take them, allowing you to monitor the quality of the image and ensure they are clear and readable. Scanners with advanced design software, such as the fastscan.io™ Scanning Solution, will also indicate when a scan is not usable before you send it off.

Lastly, sending impressions via a scanner allows you to skip the outbound shipping phase — saving valuable time for you and your patient.

Patient Happiness

The advantages of an intraoral scanner don’t just start and stop with the clinician. Your patients will also appreciate the ease and speed of a scanner. You can capture accurate impressions without filling their mouth with goopy material or making them gag with an impression tray. Patient comfort goes a long way in increasing their satisfaction and likelihood of recommending your services, making the use of a scanner a true win-win scenario.

2. How Will My Workflow Change?

CAD/CAM Integration

One of the best parts about using an intraoral scanner is the amount of freedom you will have to customize your workflow and make it your own. You can limit its use to taking digital impressions and sending them to the lab, which still offers great advantages. Or you can maximize your scanner and introduce same-visit dentistry to your practice, milling restorations right out of the office and giving patients definitive solutions in just a single appointment. Because of this, it is important to choose your scanner depending on the digital capabilities you wish to adopt in the future.

Intraoral scanners provide clinicians with accurate digital models simultaneous to the scanning process, allowing them to view the impression in real time and make the necessary adjustments.

If you are looking to adopt a same-visit digital workflow, choosing a scanner that has good CAD/CAM integration software may be your best bet. This software can include things like smile design, margin lookup and digital model casting.

Scanning solutions such as the TRIOS 3Shape® or CEREC Primescan have built-in design software that is available with a monthly subscription, while Medit and iTero Element® scanners have partnered with third-party CAD systems. Medit, for example, has partnered with Glidewell to make sending cases to the lab a seamless experience. Lastly, scanners such as the Heron™ IOS and the Carestream CS3700 do not offer CAD/CAM integration, limiting their actions to scanning and exporting. But for dentists who only want to go as far as digital impressions, basic scanners may suffice.

Even if you are not ready to adopt same-visit dentistry, intraoral scanners will still make a positive difference in your day-to-day workflow. Not only do they facilitate impression-taking by eliminating the need for putty and impression trays, but remakes are also exponentially easier since the lab is usually just a click away.

3. What Makes Each Scanner Different?

In addition to the details discussed above, there are some major differences between each scanner. Size, scanning speed and ease of use are all aspects to consider. Additionally, if your practice does more denture cases, scanner systems like the fastscan.io, iTero Element and TRIOS 3Shape are all indicated for fully edentulous patients whereas some other scanners are not.

If size is important to you, a small portable scanner that connects to a laptop for maneuvering such as the Carestream CS3700, and again the fastscan.io, are both good options.

These simple questions of size and fit are crucial when determining what scanner you would like to purchase. More questions to consider could be: Is the wand wireless? Does the scanner include all necessary equipment? Do you prefer a touchscreen device over a mouse?

4. What is the Cost of Investing in a Scanner?

Although seemingly straightforward, the cost of a scanner can many times go beyond its listed price. Add-ons such as subscription fees and extra accessories can make your initial cost grow more than you’d like.

Many large purchases are made during the fourth quarter, but when considering an intraoral scanner, the sooner the better! The earlier you invest in a scanner, the faster you can start increasing your profit.

High-end scanners such as the iTero Element and CEREC Primescan can surpass an initial price of $40,000 for the scanner alone while also requiring a monthly subscription fee. Although these scanners are extremely accurate and reliable, dishing out that kind of money may not be feasible for every practice.

However, there are high-quality options that don’t require the high-end price. The Medit i700 and fastscan.io scanning solution both cost under $20,000 and are free of monthly subscription charges while still producing accurate, reliable impressions.

5. Is There Support for My Scanner?

It’s important to emphasize that getting a scanner backed by a strong support system can be the difference in taking full advantage of the technology or limiting its potential.

There are some scanners that are sold by third-party distributors, meaning that those scanners may not be backed directly by the manufacturer, making it more difficult to resolve any issues. However, many subscription-based scanners do offer packages in the form of software updates, maintenance servicing and ongoing customer support. And thanks to the increasing popularity of scanners in dentistry, there is a myriad of educational materials online to help you get the hang of the product you are using.

The CDOP department at Glidewell is one example of the type of support offered to help clinicians with their scans and ensure a high-quality restoration.

However, some companies offer more extensive support services. A scanner solution such as the fastscan.io from Glidewell, has a dedicated “Digital Adoption Specialist” team ready to train new users on their scanner upon delivery to ensure a smooth transition to the technology. Additionally, when you send a digital case to Glidewell, you have access to ongoing support from their Centralized Digital Order Processing (CDOP) department. This group was assembled to ensure that every digital impression is carefully examined and quality checked so you get the best-fitting restoration for your patient.

6. When Will I See My Return On Investment (ROI)?

With an intraoral scanner, you can start to see the savings as soon as your first case. And depending on the price of your scanner and how many restorations you perform in a day, week or month, you can see your ROI quicker than you expected.

Tools such as this ROI calculator can help you figure out how much money you are saving based on the number of restorations you perform in a month. For perspective, when working with a lab that discounts digitally submitted cases, you can save immediately. If sending a case to Glidewell, you save $20 per unit on all-ceramic restorations and $40 per unit on screw-retained crowns and custom implant abutments. Plus, save $9 on one-way shipping per case. This can amount to a $4,000 increase in profit a year if performing 4 restoration units per week.

7. How Do I Get Started?

Even after reviewing all of the pros and cons of each scanner and deciding what you need to support your journey into digital dentistry, it can still feel overwhelming to commit to an intraoral scanner. The best choice of action would be to choose the best overall scanning solution at the best overall value. Which is exactly what Glidewell hoped to accomplish with their newly released fastscan.io Scanning Solution.

The fastscan.io is budget-friendly without skimping out on any of the quality of other high-end scanners. Powered by the Medit i700, the fastscan.io combines Medit scanning technology with a seamless connection to the Glidewell lab and delivers an affordable, straightforward path to digital dentistry. The scanning solution comes complete with a portable cart, wired or wireless wand options, and a choice of a laptop or desktop computer. With no monthly subscription or licensing fee, you will be backed by the manufacturer for direct support after the initial purchase, giving the fastscan.io one of the lowest barriers to entry of any scanning solution.

In the end, the decision to purchase an intraoral scanner is a win no matter which one you choose. Glidewell welcomes all clinicians, so choose what is right for you, and enjoy the many benefits of digital workflow.

Send blog-related questions and suggestions to hello@glidewell.com.

Digital Dentistry