She’s the new girl in our office— a little wide in the hips, and so far, she’s a bit slower than we expected. But we’ve learned to love her, just the way she is. After all, she’s changed everything about the way we do Invisalign®!
Phyllis is our affectionate name for our new iTero Digital Impression system. In its simplest terms, iTero is a digital camera. The hand-held wand emits one hundred thousand points of laser light, each one instantly snatching thousands of digital pictures of our patient’s teeth and gums. Once the scan is complete, the system software electronically stitches the photos together, creating a perfect 3-D electronic model of a patient’s mouth. The process completely eliminates those old goopy trays and miserable moments of “hold your breath anxiety” some people experience while taking dental impressions.
Though the technology can be used in many dental applications, we use these scans primarily for our Invisalign® patients. The Invisalign orthodontic process creates a series of clear retainers (called aligners) to gradually and invisibly move teeth into their ideal position. In the old days, we sent our impressions off to begin the Invisalign process. That took time; patients often waited nearly four weeks for the first set of aligners. Occasionally, despite great care, imperceptible errors crept into the impression, model, and transportation procedures, leaving patients with unusable aligners; we had to start the whole process all over again.
But Phyllis changed all that. Today, we compress these digital files and send them instantly to Invisalign. The new system has dramatically shortened our turn around time for new aligners. Digital impressions are so accurate that the aligners fit more perfectly than ever before. That accuracy guarantees we never have to re-scan our patients.
Though the scanning process takes more time than those old goopy trays, we find our patients are more than happy to cooperate. And Phyllis? Well, these days, we think of her as just another one of the staff!