The Benefits of 3D Digital Imaging

The Benefits of 3D Digital Imaging

Many dental and orthodontic treatments require dental impressions, and for many years, the process was messy, time-consuming, and uncomfortable.

At LM Orthodontics in McLean, Virginia, we offer a better way. As part of our commitment to providing you with effective treatments using the most advanced technology, we offer three-dimensional dental imaging using the iTero® intraoral scanner

Our team of expert orthodontists stays abreast of the latest research and techniques in our field so we can constantly improve your orthodontic experience. Here’s how iTero 3D imaging helps us do that.

What are dental impressions, and why are they needed?

Dental impressions are simply imprints of your teeth, gums, and soft-tissue structures in your mouth. Traditionally, this involves the use of a wide tray filled with soft putty. You bite down on the tray and sink your teeth and gums into the putty as it squishes into the nooks and crannies of your mouth. 

It takes about 15 minutes for the putty to firm up, but for some patients, that’s 15 minutes too long to keep the goopy trays in place without moving, choking, or panicking. People with a strong gag reflex have a particularly difficult time.

However, dental impressions are a necessary step in your treatment. These impressions create a model of your mouth that reveals the exact way your arches fit together; the size, shape, and position of your teeth; and their relationship to your gums. 

Dentists use impressions to fit you for crowns, bridges, implants, veneers, and dentures. At LM Orthodontics, we use them to create custom-fitted clear alignersretainersbraces, and expanders

Impressions are also critical as a diagnostic tool to determine why you have jaw-related trouble chewing, swallowing, yawing, or breathing at night. 

What is digital 3D imaging?

As its name suggests, 3D imaging creates digital three-dimensional images of your mouth. “Digital” is the key word here. Rather than using sticky putty to create a mold that will later be filled to form a model of your mouth, iTero uses a small wand that scans your oral cavity, taking thousands of pictures. 

Instantly, our software synthesizes the photos and generates a highly precise 3D image of your entire mouth. We can manipulate the image on our monitor to get a close-up look at every crevice and structure, from the back side of your teeth to your hard-to-reach molars.

Because the image is digital, it’s easy to save for use later as a comparison so we can monitor your orthodontic progress. We can also share it with you and other dental professionals involved in your oral health care.

Benefits of 3D digital imaging

If you’re in line for orthodontic treatment and need to have dental impressions taken, here are a few of the top reasons to consider 3D imaging over the old-school putty impressions.

More accurate

Putty impressions form a negative impression that a lab technician then fills to create a model of your teeth, but that procedure is less than perfect. 

3D imaging with the iTero intraoral scanner produces an exact image of the shape and contours of your teeth, gums, and other oral structures. The more accurate the image, the more accurate your treatment. 


It only takes a few seconds to capture thousands of images, and the results appear instantly on our computer monitor. With the putty method, you spend more time in the chair waiting for the model to be created.

More comfortable

With 3D imaging, the process of creating an exact replica of your mouth is quick and painless as we glide the small wand over your teeth and gums — no gagging involved.

Involves you in the process

As soon as we see the images appear, so do you. That means we can talk with you about your oral health and the problems we identify during your visit so that you’re involved in the process and the decisions about your oral health.

To give yourself the advantage of 3D digital imaging, contact us by phone or online to schedule a consultation with one of our expert orthodontists. 

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