The aligner therapy process starts with an accurate model of your teeth. There are two ways to do this:
- A physical impression using dental "putty"
- A digital scan using an intraoral scanner (a scanner that goes in your mouth)
At Strayt, we offer both options. This post explores the pros and cons of each. Let's begin with the physical impressions.
- If you're a private person that doesn't like the thought of another person looking into your mouth, an impression kit might be right for you.
- If you live in a place where it isn't feasible to go somewhere to be scanned or to have someone come to you to perform a scan, a self-impression kit in the mail is really your only option.
- If the tray is too big or too small, you won't be able to make a usable impression.
- Making a good impression takes experience. If you've never done it before, there's a chance you'll mess it up.
- It can be quite uncomfortable to fit the tray filled with putty into your mouth.
- If you don't mix the putty correctly, it won't set properly. If you don't time it right, the putty may harden before you sink your teeth into it. If you don't sink your teeth far enough into the putty, you won't get an impression of your entire tooth. If you sink your teeth in too deep, the impression will not be usable.
- It can be difficult to remove the impression material once it has hardened over your teeth.
- The physical impressions do not tell your treating doctor anything about your occlusion (bite alignment).
- Packaging and shipping the completed impressions can be inconvenient and add another step to the process.
- Physical impressions slow the process down because they have to be mailed, twice. Whereas scans are just uploaded directly to the lab.
- Speed. A typical scan takes 5-10 minutes.
- A scan is completely painless and much less invasive than a tray filled with impression putty.
- The scan is radiation-free and completely safe.
- Administered by a professional that is trained in how to scan.
- Accurate to 21µm (microns) on a full arch scan. A micron is one-millionth of a meter or 0.00004 inches. By comparison, human hair is about 75µm.
- Faster case turnaround times. Scan files are uploaded directly to the design lab, eliminating shipping times.
- Scan software has an occlusion (bite alignment) function that maps how the upper and lower arches align with each other.
- The only potential downside of the scan is if you have to travel a long way to get scanned. Strayt is the only aligner company that offers on-site scanning to make it even easier.
There are many aligner companies out there that offer an at-home impression kit. We think self-impression kits are an inferior solution. Where possible, a digital scan is the preferred solution. Strayt is the only aligner company that provides on-site scan consultations to make the process even more convenient and accessible.