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Special Issues
November 2015
Volume 11, Issue 4

Reaching the Next Level with Digital Optical Impressions

Precise 3D impressions eliminate the need for physical impressions

Todd Ehrlich, DDS, FAGD

There are pieces of equipment and technologies that you need for complex restorative procedures. Typically, one chooses these based on their ease-of-use and ability to achieve predictable outcomes. While physical impressions have suited the dental industry for many years, it is hard for me to even consider taking one for a crown preparation, bridge, or veneers. Sirona developed an intraoral scanning system that can do away with goopy physical impressions and all of the nuances of the procedure. The CEREC Omnicam (Figure 1 and Figure 2) provides unrivalled handling, powder-free scanning, and precise 3D impressions in natural color, taking digital optical impressions to the next level.


The Omnicam fits easily into the hand and has a balanced weight. The weight is similar, or slightly heavier, than some electric high-speed handpieces.

The Omnicam demonstrates an easy feel in the hand and effortless manipulation. The camera can be rotated and tilted with finger pressure only. Slight movements and detailed angled imaging are simple and effortless. The Omnicam is held just like a dental handpiece, which makes it familiar, even with the novice user.

You Already Know How to Use It

When a technique is performed in a similar fashion as something else, there is an increased level of confidence. Intraoral cameras have been around for more than 2 decades now, and they have proven beneficial in diagnosing, treatment planning, and patient education. The Omnicam is just like any other high-resolution intraoral camera, but it has major advantages: it takes video and builds a three-dimensional model in color at the same time. Using the Omnicam is identical to what many clinicians are already doing with their intraoral cameras, but with added benefits.

Because of these similarities, the learning curve of the Omnicam is extremely short. The ergonomics and live video footage make it very intuitive. Even when a child picks up the camera, she can see how the model forms as it is waved over the teeth and gingiva. During rotation and tipping, other surfaces come to life on the model.

Efficiency Cannot Be Denied

By the time physical impression tips are bled, the Omnicam could complete a final digital impression, and actually have the final model ready. However, the digital data can still be manipulated. Therefore, the clinician can image the necessary teeth during down times of an appointment. When the Omnicam images the teeth, that data is set aside in the software while the tooth is prepared. Once the tooth is prepared, the clinician only needs to image what has changed: the prepared tooth. The net amount of time to create the model could be seconds. Plus, the digital data still can be manipulated without losing accuracy.

If any problems are seen with the preparation, or other conditions, like retraction of the tissue, it can simply be deleted in the data. The situation is improved and re-imaged. This adds to the already built digital model, much like a “wash impression” done with physical impressions. A “digital wash” is much easier because it can be seen as it is happens and it cannot affect the rest of the model.

About the Author

Todd Ehrlich, DDS, FAGD, has practiced in the Austin area since 1998. He graduated magna cum laude from the dental school in San Antonio, which was the #1 dental school in the nation as ranked by US News and World Report. Dr. Ehrlich is a consultant and lecturer for the highest technology in dentistry. His training courses are well known in the dental CAD/CAM world, and his training center, The Digital Enamel Education Center, is located next to Smile Designs.

Reasons to Buy Sirona CEREC Omnicam


Easy to hold and manipulate


Digital impressions can be made at various times during a procedure, not just at the end

Clinical Enhancement

Preparation flaws can be changed and re-imaged into the model


Unit is so intuitive, anyone could use it successfully

Sirona Dental, Inc.

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