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Intra-oral scanners in the everyday dental practice

Dr Marcos White demonstrating how he incorporates the iTero scanner into his everyday workflow. (Photograph: Positive Communications)

Tue. 4. December 2018


HUDDERSFIELD, UK: When used correctly, intra-oral scanners offer a wide range of benefits, including increased patient acceptance and reduced chairside time. Dr Marcos White, a leading cosmetic dentist and owner of The Courtyard Clinical Academy, a dental practice based in Huddersfield, England, talks us through his adoption of intra-oral scanners and how Align Technology’s iTero scanner has impacted his practice’s digital workflow.

“I’m passionate about raising the profile of high-quality restorative dentistry as well as the environment in which it is carried out,” said White, whose actions speak louder than his words. In 2012, White bought his first digital, intra-oral scanner, long before most dental companies brought products based on this concept to market. Six years later, White now owns three digital scanners, all of which are iTero Intraoral Scanners.

“We ended up sharing the first iTero scanner we purchased between four surgeries, which was not the most practical or efficient way of running the practice. So, the purchase of two more scanners became the most sensible option. I am not the type of person to spend money extravagantly, but when you see something working and exceeding your expectations, you just go for it,” he explained.

“I used a couple of different scanners over the past five years and kept abreast of what the digital world had to offer,” White added. “I was doing a lot of Invisalign treatments and iTero was the orthodontic scanner of choice—it had a successful track record and the Invisalign Outcome Simulator also offered a unique way of communicating with patients. However, since using my first iTero scanner, I have a better perspective on this. I must admit, I might have been a bit short-sighted or must have gotten carried away by the technology. Essentially, I chose the iTero for orthodontic purposes only and completely overlooked any other modality for which I could use it. It was only after I started using it that I realised its full potential and how adaptive it is for restorative work. In fact, I now use iTero for pretty much everything, including full arch implant cases.”

White’s practice has placed over 1,200 successful implants, completed more than 650 Invisalign cases and handled numerous complex restorative cases. White clarified that one of the keys to establishing trust in his patients to conduct these courses of treatment is the iTero scanner.

“For consultation purposes, it is such a fantastic tool,” he said. “There isn’t that sense of trust that you have to slowly build with your patients—they see their problems in colour, on screen and the entire experience removes that negotiation pitch to get to the treatment stage. Patients feel more involved and more in control and you end up with a more relaxed and engaged patient who has a better understanding of the overall process, one who is looking forward to the outcome of their treatment. With iTero being so accurate, the work is much more predictable, which gives me the confidence I need to deliver that dream solution.”

However, White cautions that successfully integrating intra-oral scanners into a dental practice’s workflow is not as simple as merely purchasing one. “Dentists need to understand that there is a learning and training element to factor in, in order to get to that stage. Integrating an intra-oral scanner into a dental practice requires a different mindset. “Your team has to be fully on-board, you need to work with laboratories that can support it, appointment lengths have to be changed and so on. In my practice, we actually offer dentists the opportunity to come and watch how we use the iTero. It isn’t complicated, but it is easier to demonstrate how the entire configuration works around patients and members of the dental team,” White explained.

Overall, White’s team has accepted the integration of the iTero scanner. “My nurses, treatment co-ordinators and other members of the team all love it,” he said. “It is quite simple to use, they all feel involved and valued—and you know how important that is for the smooth running of a business. It also gives me more time to focus on the treatments and it means that my patients get the best from me, too.”