With so many options in the market for intraoral scanners, how do you find the most suitable one for your practice? One of the key features that some intraoral scanners boast is its powder-free system. What exactly is the benefit of going powder-free and are there any downsides to such a system? We weigh the pros and cons of powder-free intraoral scanners so that you can make a more informed decision on which system works better for you.
Scanners which require the use of powder are relatively more complicated to use as compared to powder-free scanners. Besides the fact that the use of powder can be messy and uncomfortable, trying to maintain the optimum thickness of powder coating on the teeth during the whole scanning process can be frustrating. This is because of the possibility that the patient may lick the powder off, as well as the difficulty of ascertaining how much powder to apply, as having too much or too little powder will affect the scan quality. In addition, an inconsistency in powder thickness applied on the teeth would affect the accuracy of scans due to a transfiguration of the tooth outline. As a result, there is a high likelihood that multiple re-scans may be required to get optimum images to avoid inaccuracies in the treatment solutions.
In comparison, powder-free intraoral scanners are easier to operate and are less of a hassle. Firstly, a powder-free system requires fewer processing steps as you can skip the process of applying powder on a patient’s teeth. This makes the learning process easier. Powder-free systems are also easier to handle, especially for full-arch acquisition as there is no need to constantly check the consistency of the powder on the teeth during the scanning process.
In addition, eliminating the use of powder reduces the risk of irritation to surgical sites, making it safer for patients who have just had surgery.
There is also a lower likelihood of needing re-scans with powder-free systems in comparison to systems which use powder. This means that using a powder-free system makes the digital impression-taking much faster and reduces chair time by more than 20%. All this makes for an overall improved experience for both the dentist and patient.
However, the use of powder can be helpful when scanning reflective or translucent materials. Adding a layer of powder on reflective materials provides an opaque coating which reflects light in a uniform pattern. This makes it easier for the scanner sensor to capture images. Hence, you can apply a light coating of powder even when using powder-free scanners for certain cases such as when scanning highly translucent materials such as porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns or ceramic brackets.
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