July 5, 2011 —  The field of oral and maxillofacial radiology has made great advancements in achieving safe and consistent dental implant placement. In the last year our imaging laboratory has continued that tradition with the help of the eScan 3D laser scanner by 3D Digital. For a patient undergoing possible dental implant placement, it is highly reassuring to know the level of precision that CBCT data acquisition and computer-aided procedures now provide.

Standard two-dimensional X-rays are far from sufficient to the task, due to problems such as distortion, magnification, and overlap of anatomical features. CBCT data allows the practitioner to visualize the quantity of hard tissue as well as avoid such anatomical sites as nerves and sinus passages. Acquisition data is imported into third-party software (such as SimPlant) where dental implant planning and placement can be accomplished before the clinical procedure. The optical scan of the patient’s mouth (dental cast model) is registered for placement of virtual teeth. In addition, a 3D laser scan of patient cast models aids in proper registration of the cast model and ordering of a surgical guide. 

Optically scanning the patient cast model became the opportunity for referring practitioners to significantly increase their use of the dental implant guided software. After researching the optical scanners available, there were low-priced, very affordable units that were not up to the task, and there were models that would do the job but their price was in the range of $40,000. The 3D Digital eScan was the one affordable scanner with the power and precision required.

When ordering my eScan, I explained to 3D Digital the application required and was told that a jig could be designed and built, then shipped with the scanner for our custom use. Once the user becomes familiar with the scanning process and deploys bundled software to optimize STL files, successful results are achieved. Surgical guides fabricated from this process fit perfectly, with the clinical result being positive patient outcomes.

W. Bruce Howerton, Jr.  DDS MS
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist