March 2020
Volume 41, Issue 3

iTero® Element Intraoral Scanners Help Dentists Not Only Treat But Educate Patients

Dana Colson, DDS, considers her Toronto dental office to be first and foremost a wellness-based practice. A clinician for more than 40 years, she is experienced in and passionate about exploring the correlation between oral and systemic health. "I like to help my patients understand the importance of a healthy mouth-body relationshipto optimize their quality of life through health and wellness," she asserts.

As a result, Colson integrates various alternative treatments into her practice, such as acupunctureand craniosacral principles with material compatibility. "We spend a lot of time listening to patients and discussing all of the treatment options available. I believe patient educationand understanding is key."

To support her commitment to keeping patients informed, a centerpiece of Colson's midtown practice is a fleet of interactive digital scanners that help facilitate patient engagement in their treatments. Colson says she was an early adopter of Align Technology's iTero® intraoral scanners and always has had good success with them. "I initially chose iTero to scan for restorative, and it integrated with the Invisalign® treatment platform." With a compact footprint, the highly portable scanners are ideal for her busy practice, which includes three associates and a 30-member team.

The iTero® Element 2 scanner offers an array of features and applications, including 3D impressions for restorative and orthodontic work, intraoral camera imagery, and analysis instruments such as iTero TimeLapse technology, Progress Assessment, and Occlusogram. "With the iTero Element, we are able to show patients their current situation, where the potential problems are, and how we can improve it," Colson states.

As a clinician who stresses the importance of occlusion for the stability of teeth and patient comfort, Colson utilizes the Occlusogram application to demonstrate to patients the contact relationship between arches. "It's hard for patients to deny what's going on in their mouth when they can actually see, for example, the man-made grooves they've created when we overlay the color. It clearly indicates to them where there are excessive abnormal intraoral forces. Stable foundations enable minimally invasive dentistry."

Using intraoral scanners helps clinicians show patients their oral condition visually rather than having to rely on verbal explanations, intraoral still photographs, or stone models from impressions, Colson suggests, adding that her patients feel empowered by being able to view their teeth in the same way clinicians do. "Plus, the digital impression system eliminates the need for messy putty in the mouth," she says.

Today Colson utilizes three iTero Element® scanners in her practice, including the new iTero Element 5D* with near-infrared imaging (NIRI) technology. The iTero Element 5D is a hybrid dental imaging system that simultaneously records 3D, intraoral color, and NIRI images that enable the comparison of two scans over time. "The NIRI technology in the iTero Element 5D lets us observe occlusal surfaces and look for any potential areas of decay, which can then be confirmed with an x-ray," she says. "Some patients may defer radiographs for themselves and their children but change their minds when seeing signs of decalcifications with NIRI."

"Together, all of the features of iTero create a whole picture. The images have many dimensions and come alive, and patients get to see what's going on in real-time," Colson states eloquently. Because of the convenience and capabilities of the iTero Element scanners, she offers complimentary intraoral scanning to her patients to attain a baseline of information. "I don't charge for it, because I don't want cost to prevent us from understanding what's happening with a patient."

iTero Element intraoral scanners, Colson concludes, enable her to practice what she calls "a kinder way to do dentistry." Patients, she says, are more comfortable about being in the dental chair, and dentistry is easier-and more fun-for clinicians andthe team.

*Disclaimer: The iTero Element 5D scanner is not available for sale in the United States.

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