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Inside Dental Technology
September 2014
Volume 5, Issue 9

Revolutionary Scanner Continues to Amaze Technicians and Dentists

Never resting on its laurels, 3M redefines scanning technology

An up-close look at the newest-generation 3MTM True Definition Scanner in a conversation with Todd Deckard, 3M Product Marketing Manager of 3M Digital Oral Care, and Brian Schroder, DDS, a general practitioner.

It was only 2 years ago that 3M surprised the world with the launch of the revolutionary 3M True Definition Scanner. Sporting a slim handpiece-like design with the smallest scan head on the market, the True Definition Scanner retained the 3D video technology of its predecessor, the 3M LavaTM Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S., but was a clear and concise improvement with its light weight and ability to reach deeper into the mouth. More revolutionary still was the price of the scanner. It came in at nearly a third of the price of its competitors.

But those who know 3M well understand the company rarely sits to bask in the limelight for long. Customers were still demanding more from the company.

Fast-forward to July 31, 2014 and 3M’s Digital Exchange prelaunch meeting at the Gale Mansion in the heart Minneapolis, MN. Curious and excited dentists came in from all parts of the country to test drive the next-generation 3M True Definition Scanner.

“3M can never leave a customer problem unsolved,” said Todd Deckard, Product Marketing Manager of 3M Digital Oral Care. “The launch of the first generation 3M True Definition Scanner was very successful for us and a dramatic refresh of the original Lava C.O.S. But dentists still came back with issues revolving around ease of use.” Deckard explains the problems centered around difficulties scanning the posterior of the mouth, in particular the distal portion of the second molar, and the speed of digital capture. Even though the accuracy of the first generation 3M True Definition Scanner culminated in a crown that would seat 40% faster and was less likely to require adjustment, customers wanted a tool that was easy enough to use that they could pass the scanning task to auxiliary staff, a step that would better fit the workflow pace of the practice. Both issues have been addressed with the newest iteration of the 3M True Definition Scanner. Not only has the design been optimized for scanning the posterior and the digital capture speed optimized to scan a full diagnostic arch in as little as 60 seconds, but also the focal distance of the scanner head to the tooth surface is no longer an issue. The head of the scanner can actually touch the tooth during the scanning process and capture the full detail of the tooth surface.

Dr. Brian Schroder, a general dentist operating a private practice based in San Antonio, TX, is involved in beta testing the new 3M True Definition Scanner and has been a dedicated Lava C.O.S. user since 2009. “The speed and volume of data uptake with each pass of the wand of this newest scanner is significantly more complete, reducing the number of passes needed to capture all aspects of the tooth surface,” says Schroder, who has rendered treatment to 1247 patients using the Lava C.O.S. digital impression system and seated 1787 restorations created from digital capture data. Comparing the feel and size of the 3M True Definition Scanner to that of an intraoral camera or larger handpiece, Schroder says scanning using one hand is now possible, freeing the off hand to retract a cheek or tongue if necessary. But it’s the smaller head of the scanner that impresses Schroder the most. The ability to scan second molars, particularly the distal surface and full arches has been a challenge up until now. “One of the biggest challenges with the original 3M True Definition Scanner had been the focal distance from the surface of the tooth to the actual source of data capture in the wand,” said Schroder. “The head size and wand depth made it extremely difficult to capture data in the posterior. But with this new iteration of the 3M True Definition Scanner, you can easily reach the posterior and place the scan head directly on the surface of the tooth to capture the necessary data.”

Deckard explains that the slimmer beveled-head design was made possible by placing a small mirror in the tip of the scan head and moving the electronics and optic capture technology more toward the rear of the handpiece. The optical elements were also refined to result in better image resolution and improved performance.

For both dentists and laboratories, the open STL format of the digital scan files generated by the 3M True Definition Scanner is particularly important. “I hope we have given users the best of both worlds,” said Deckard. “The workflow process is fully open. Laboratories and manufacturers can rely on our trusted workflows, but with open STL files we have not restrained them from using whatever systems and processes they want to use.”

Schroder has taken advantage of the open-architecture format to prescribe myriad restorative applications from milled IPS e.max, pressed ceramic, and cast gold to milled monolithic zirconia and even milled wax patterns for casting. “Digital impressioning technology is enabling dentists to rethink traditional methodologies, especially the younger and progressive practitioners,” said Schroder. “It is now not a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ to get into the game. The sooner you do, the better off you will be as the industry is changing rapidly.”

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