New scanner takes 3D photos of your teeth

3D Scanner takes photos of your teeth

Lead researcher Peter Kuhmstedt scans a model's mouth. Image: Fraunhofer Institute.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, Germany, have developed a 3D imaging system that is poised to revolutionise the field of dental prosthesis.

Making dentures today is a multi-step process. Dentists take impressions of the bite, make wax or stone-material models from them, and test them in the patient’s mouth for fit before sending them to the lab for the final cast. Many dentures come back ill-fitting, requiring still more adjustments.

The 3D system, designed for the German dental technology company Hint Els, takes less time and improves accuracy. An optical scanner is inserted into the patient’s mouth, where it takes a rapid sequence of pictures from various angles every 200 milliseconds, recording the surface and shape of every tooth or gap. The dentist then inputs the images into 3D software, which conducts a pixel-precise comparison to map the patient’s mouth. Technicians are then able to create a dental prosthesis with a more exact fit.

Hint Els is currently working on commercial production of the optical scanner, called directScan, which could be available as soon as September.

Better fitting dentures are on the way.

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