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November/December 2020
Volume 41, Issue 10

Clinicians Gain Insights Into Patients’ Oral Conditions With iTero Element 5D Imaging System

For Tara Hardin, DDS, dentistry is a family affair. Her father being a dentist and her mother a dental hygienist, Hardin knew from a young age she wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps. "My father began bringing me to his office to assist him before I was 10 years old," Hardin reminisces fondly. "I enjoyed helping him on the weekends and after hours when he didn't have his assistants."

Hardin can pinpoint when she knew she wanted to be a dentist: when her braces were removed in her late teenaged years and she saw the startling improvement they made on her smile. In 2010 she became the sole owner of her Mason, Ohio, practice, where she provides comprehensive dentistry utilizing a variety of specialists. "I believe in a team approach and collaboration," she affirms.

One advantage Hardin has today over her father's practice is access to digital technology. Indispensable to her practice, she says, is the iTero Element 5D imaging system. "When I was looking for an intraoral scanner, key factors I considered were presentation, accuracy, speed, integration, and technical support. My experience with the iTero Element 5D imaging system has been amazing," she attests.

All of Hardin's new-patient consultations involve scanning, so having an efficient, state-of-the-art scanner was imperative. During consultations, Hardin is able to show patients digital models of their teeth on a large screen then view the iTero Occlusogram together and discuss aspects of their occlusion and bite. She also uses the system's near infrared imaging (NIRI) technology to reveal any cracks or white-spot areas on the scanner image.

"I can focus on these areas to aid in the diagnosis of tooth decay," Hardin explains. "If patients inquire about their bite or are interested in doing Invisalign® treatment, I can then use the Invisalign Outcome Simulator to show them their potential final smile." All of these capabilities, she notes, are available with one scan from the iTero Element 5D imaging system.

"It's a great patient education tool. Patients begin to understand there is wear on a front tooth or recession on a tooth with a heavy contact, and they see those changes over time. This helps them be open to accepting a suggested treatment plan," she offers.

Thanks to the accuracy of the digital scans produced by the iTero Element 5D, Hardin says that the fit, contacts, and occlusion on her final restorations typically require little to no adjustments. "The restorations are designed digitally without producing model work. This saves materials, time, and money," she asserts.

Moreover, Hardin claims that the iTero Element 5D imaging system has allowed her to be "a better dentist and diagnostician" because of the timely information she receives. The scanning system creates virtual models for her to obtain a global view of the entire mouth. "I can diagnose problems more accurately, and not be a ‘single-tooth' dentist. At the same time it also provides a unique patient experience, leveraging digital technology to bring life to their oral condition."

Hardin, who currently owns three iTero Element scanners, appreciates that there is an education center available on the iTero Element 5D imaging system that is accessible chairside. In addition, Align Technology offers many webinars to support full integration and utilization of the scanner in the practice.

With digital technology such as the iTero Element 5D imaging system available, Hardin doesn't see why any clinician would still be taking conventional impressions. "The cost of impression material and time will pay for the machine before you know it," she surmises. "Our goal now is to not only scan new patients, but also all patients that are part of our practice."

Align Technology, Inc.

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