Inside Dentistry
May 2012
Volume 8, Issue 5

Impressions Up Close

The iTero Optical Scanner can help optimize aligner benefits with superior impression accuracy.

Until recently, achieving highly accurate impressions for optimizing aligner benefits has been challenging. Various impression materials have their drawbacks, and process inconsistencies have often led to additional appointments and adjustments. Today, digital impressions, such as those delivered by the Align iTero™ scanner, are providing practices with superior accuracy, cost savings, patient satisfaction, restorative solutions, implant solutions, and orthodontic solutions such as Invisalign®. The iTero scanner also supports multiple practical uses of milled polyurethane models.

Mobility for Convenience

The iTero device consists of a mobile cart measuring about 29 inches in height, 26 inches in width, and 15 inches in depth (Figure 1). A handheld scanner wand is attached to the cart to carry scan data to the unit. With its own battery, the iTero scanner can be unplugged from an AC power source and moved to wherever it is needed without powering down between patients. An onboard wireless router can communicate with a wireless modem for enabling Internet connection.

Operators enter data using a wireless mouse and sealed keyboard on the horizontal surface, allowing disinfection techniques to be used (Figure 2). Images are displayed on a widescreen liquid crystal display (LCD) attached to the mobile iTero cart. Operators can also use a wireless foot pedal to enter data and navigate the system remotely. With hands-free operation, a single operator can scan and manage the unit.

Scanning for High Visibility

The iTero’s scanner’s parallel/confocal scanning technology uses laser and optical scanning to digitally capture teeth, gingival surfaces, and contours. The confocal technology is a true optical scan and does not require powder dusting. In parallel confocal scanning, a light source passes through a small filtering pinhole that focuses the light on the target object. The light then reflects off of the object. Only in-focus reflected light will return through the filtering mechanism. Reflected light that is not in the confocal plane will be blocked. Parallel confocal scanning produces high-quality images because out-of-focus information is rejected and depth of field control is enhanced.

The handheld intraoral scanning wand collects scan data using a video camera that contains the laser light source, focusing motor, and analog-to-digital converters. The iTero captures 100,000 points of laser light in perfect focus at 300 focal depths in a 14-mm x 18-mm pattern, producing a 15-mm scan depth. An analog-to-digital converter in the camera wand converts reflected light into digital data in about one third of a second, with an accuracy of 15 µm.

The camera is balanced with a “notch” for the operator’s hand at the optimal balance point. Inexpensive single-use disposable sleeves fit over the camera end of the scanning wand to help prevent patient cross-contamination. The scanner sleeve is useful as a retraction aid for cheeks, tongue, and soft tissue, as well as a method to steady the camera.

The Align iTero scanning technology does not require powder, powder dusting, or accent frosting, regardless of the type of scan or restoration desired. Doctors receive highly accurate digital impressions of interproximal areas and ensure arch-width dimensional stability. With the iTero 4.05 software, doctors can:

  • support restorative solutions with or without milled models.
  • create highly accurate milled polyurethane models with precise dies that fit securely into position.
  • export STL file to third party systems that construct CAD-designed and CAM-milled restorations from materials such as zirconium without a model.
  • use full-arch scanning to create precise digital treatment plans and polyurethane models.
  • with third-party systems, integrate CBCT D com files with iTero STL files for virtual planning, 3D rendering, surgical guide development, and connection to CAD/CAM services.
  • conduct detailed orthodontic diagnosis and analysis with the OrthoCAD® software suite, including an exclusive interoperability with Invisalign®.


All This and Savings Too

Align iTero scanning is also cost-effective. Assuming $500 of hourly production, saving an average of 15 minutes of chair time would save $125 per production hour. With one scan per day, and a conservative estimate of 120 production days per year, savings range from $12,500 to $16,250 per year.

Digital scanning greatly enhances clinical accuracy and efficiency while providing flexibility for a wide range of tooth movement/alignment and restorative procedures. Fast and acceptable to patients without messy powders, trays, and putty—digital scanning is clearly the path that impressions are taking.

For more information, contact:
Align Technology, Inc.
Web: www.itero.com
Phone: 408-470-1000


The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dentistry.

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