Local dentist goes digital for procedures

October 16, 2008 7:47:04 PM PDT
A new technology is replacing a messy and uncomfortable ritual at the dentist office. Instead of filling your mouth with goop, your dentist could soon be using advanced digital photography.

Patient Rick Haltenhoff is about to get fitted a new crown, to replace one that cracked. Traditionally, that process would start with a mouth full of goop.

The dental cement is used to make an impression of a patient's teeth. That impression is cast into a model that's used by lab technicians, to shape a crown that fits. The process requires letting the cement set for several minutes in the patient's mouth.

"Most people complain about gagging. It felt like a slithery material you know," said Dr. J.J. Salehieh from Cupertino Dental Group.

But at his office in Cupertino, Doctor Saleheigh is about to create a perfect virtual model of Rick's damaged teeth without a drop of cement. He is using a new device that will photograph them in high-definition 3D.

"The computer tells me exactly what angle to take pictures," said Doctor Saleheigh.

In just a few minutes time, the wand, manufactured by a company called Iterro, will take high speed scans of more than a 100,000 points in the patients' mouth.

Software then constructs a precise digital blueprint. In a moment, the 3D image will be on its way to the lab that will turn it into a physical model for the crown.

"We're going do a full crown. This shows the size of the tooth and how we designed it. Now we say it's perfect, now go to this icon, and hit this, you just got emailed to New Jersey," said Doctor Saleheigh.

The blueprint is then used to make a mold, and the result will ultimately be a crown that fits even more precisely than many traditional casts.

"So the traditional crown of bridge when it was stone and plaster its coming to an end," said Doctor Saleheigh.

"For crown and bridge, regular crowns, veneers, cosmetic, we've been taking digital images. Since April, no redo's," said

The technology can also be used for other types of dental fittings, including bridgework.


Load Comments