Analogue or digital impressions?

28 July 2022
3 min read
Stand: Coltene, Halle 10.2
Stand: Coltene, Halle 10.2 - Koelnmesse / IDS / Coltene

The International Dental Show (IDS) 2023 demonstrates how trusted and innovative concepts complement each other.  

Analogue or digital impressions? Crown and bridge frameworks made of metal or ceramics? Veneer or monolithic? Titanium or zirconium oxide or plastic implants? In most cases, the options don't rule each other out, instead an interplay between trusted and innovative methods is establishing itself. Precisely this offers the dental practice and laboratory a wealth of opportunities. Like no other industry event, the 40th International Dental Show (IDS) 2023, which is being staged from March 14-18, 2023, as the leading global trade fair for dentistry, will present you with cutting-edge technology. 

For example, digital impressions can match if not exceed the precision of conventional impressions in the section of individual tooth restorations through to smaller bridges. Should flaws become apparent afterwards, a "digital" virtual depiction directly on the screen has many advantages - it can then be rescanned - job done. 

In the case of conventional impressions, flow defects cannot be corrected "in a flash" with little effort. Instead, a completely new impression has to be taken. That means having to choose the impression tray again, preparation of the impression material, waiting for the setting and disinfecting times and producing a further model. The above steps become totally obsolete in the case of a digital impression. This makes the crown and bridge therapy faster. Many patients find the digital impression more comfortable and fewer appointments are necessary. 

And now the "but": What happens in a field of operation that is difficult to access? Or in the case of infra-gingival areas? Conventional impressions are indispensable in such cases. This same is also true if too many digital scans have to be overlapped and matched. Conventional impressions are also recommended here to avoid the risk of inaccuracies. 

It is probably also the preferred alternative for mobile mucosal areas, especially in the field of full prosthetics. Hygiene aspects and infection control have to be considered. Here digital impressions come out on top because no potentially germ-laden elastomers have to be handled. Only the handpiece of the intraoral scanner and the operating panel must be disinfected. Of course, the general economic aspects have to be taken into account, whereby the varying initial investments and consumables must be weighed up. 

In the foreseeable future, both digital and analogue impressions will likely be implemented. However, the indication range of the digital variant is expected to expand and be implemented more frequently in future. 

But isn't every workflow ultimately going to shift towards digital methods?  

Either the dental technician works with the data of the oral scanner or they scan the impression and, in this case, also subsequently works with a data package. This is one option, but one can also still work with a classic hand-made model based on the analogue impression. Or the virtual model generated on the monitor is consciously turned into a physical model using plastic printing to make a classic, fireproof stump for aesthetic ceramic layering (i.e. for the inlay technique). 

In the same way that analogue impressions can be further processed using digital design and CAD/CAM production, digital scanning can also lead to a physical model - or even to casted restorations or frameworks ("Scan-to-cast" method). 

Trusted methods complement innovative ideas in a practical way in the whole field of dentistry - for example in the endodontics area: digital tools for an endodontic backward planning from the 3D X-ray through to the drill template (to ensure the ideal angle when introducing files). This enables a plannable approach and collaborative working. The specialist can plan digitally, the family dentist can carry out the root canal treatment. 

Of course, which option from the diverse choice of treatment concepts is selected depends on the initial clinical situation, the goal and the preferences of the patient, dentist and dental technician. The right products are particularly important for the execution of the therapy. 

"The visitors of IDS 2023 can compare which products are especially suitable for a certain practice or laboratory directly on-site in the exhibition halls in Cologne," said Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the Association of German Dental Manufacturers (VDDI). "I am eager to see which trusted and innovative concepts and products meet with special interest at IDS and will thus also determine the direction of research and development over the years to come. I am also looking forward to the unique atmosphere that will prevail in 2023, in the anniversary year commemorating '100 years of IDS'.  

“This round anniversary teaches us on the one hand modesty in the face of the large foundation on which we stand and on the other hand makes us proud that we are part of something bigger - all of those who attend IDS 2023."