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Inside Dental Hygiene
March 2019
Volume 15, Issue 3

Tips for Digital Scanning Success

Susan Wingrove, RDH, BS

What are the key elements of intraoral digital scanning success?
Digital scanning and a new tool can change the way you practice, with no more impressions. The new instrument described in this article, supported by office and clinical protocols,
can enhance techniques for procedures ranging from single restorations to full-arch scans.

A New Instrument for the Dental Team

What can dental professionals use for retraction with digital intraoral scanners for fast, clear scans? Until now, a dental team has had few resources. Often a mirror or their gloved fingers have been used for isolation and retraction.

Scan-Mate is a new, professional, bendable isolation and retraction instrument. From Armor Dental (, the new instrument retracts the patient's lip, cheek, and tongue comfortably. Scan-Mate is reusable and autoclaved before each use. It includes a soft, latex-free, bendable tip with a nonreflective black finish specifically intended to provide an isolated, optimal field during the scanning process for an error-free scan.

"Scan-Mate gives trained auxiliaries the confidence to scan their patients with ease, while drastically reducing their scan time," says Dona Schulz, technology trainer and implementation specialist.

Daily Scanning Setup: Office Protocol

One employee in the dental office should be assigned as the digital technology specialist, who oversees the daily setup and turns on all the technology equipment each morning. The scanner should be warmed up and the patients' names entered each day before scanning. An administrative team member or digital technology specialist should review the schedule for the day to identify the patients who potentially need digital scans. Hygiene patients should be included for possible orthodontic aligner scans and occlusal guards in a designated operatory.

A fully stocked mobile cart should be set up to include the following: the warmed-up scanner, retraction cords or paste, and individually bagged, sterilized, new scanning isolation and retraction instruments. The cart should be prepared to wheel into any operatory and be ready to scan. The digital scanner should be maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Successful Scanning: Clinical Protocol

The area that needs to be scanned should be identified while clinicians establish a clear view of the scan path for procedures, ranging from single restorations to full-arch scans. Bend the nonreflecting Scan-Mate instrument to retract the lip, cheek, and tongue. Glide the scanner effortlessly with the retraction you need-fingers are no longer needed. 

"Intraoral scanning is here to stay, but that does not mean it is easy," says Scott Ganz, DMD, of Fort Lee, New Jersey. "Getting the proper retraction is essential to ensure proper image acquisition and quality.  Scan-Mate allows me to quickly and clearly visualize the area to be scanned, helping to ensure accurate, crisp, and clean images."


When streamlined office and clinical protocols are in place, digital technology can enhance patients' dental experiences. Teaming up with a technology implementation specialist will allow an office's auxiliary team to be trained confidently to complete even the most challenging scans.

Susan Wingrove,RDH, BS
Wingrove Dynamics
Missoula, Montana

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