What is a Digital Impression?

Dentistry is rapidly changing to include advanced technology.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we always strive to give our patients the very best.  The best of tried and true methods with the best of the latest advances, the best quality of care with the most compassionate consideration.  We believe that investing in advanced technology provides better efficiency, safety, and patient comfort. 

One of our favorite advances in the last decade is our intraoral scanner, which enables us to take digital impressions.  We will explain what that means in this week’s blog.

What is an Impression?

An impression is a mold or scan that allows your dentist to create a perfect replica of the teeth.  Historically, dentists have used a variety of materials to capture a “negative” of the shape of the teeth and gums, including putty, plaster, agar, alginate and newer silicone materials.

Today, dental impressions can be a physical material inserted into the mouth or a digital impression captured electronically.

Why are Impressions Important in Dentistry?

We use impressions for a variety of reasons.  Impressions allow us to create study models of the teeth, evaluating the position, shape, size and orientation of the teeth.  This helps us plan for any proposed treatment.

We also use impressions in the process of creating indirect restorations for the teeth.  Indirect restorations are anything that is not formed directly onto the teeth inside the mouth.  This includes dental crowns, partials, dentures, and implant-supported prosthetics. 

We also use impressions to make models of the teeth for fabrication of appliances, like whitening trays and mouthguards.

What is a Digital Impression?

A digital impression uses three-dimensional intraoral scanning to capture an electronic model of the teeth instead of using physical material to create a physical model.  We use a small wand-like camera to capture thousands of tiny pictures of the mouth that the computer stitches together to create a three-dimensional model.

We can then email the digital impression to various dental labs for the production of physical models of the teeth, retainers, orthodontic aligners, crowns, and more.

What are the Advantages of a Digital Impression?

We know that new does not always mean better.  Dr. Jill is very conscientious about adding new technologies to the practice, and this is one that she knew everyone (patients and team members alike) would appreciate.


Digital impressions are highly accurate.  Unlike physical impressions, which can warp, stretch, distort, or contain voids, digital impressions replicate a high resolution “picture” of the teeth.  The replica is accurate down to tenths of a millimeter!

The digital model created is also reproducible, so there is not a need for multiple impressions.  One and done!

Patient Comfort

Remember those gooey messy materials that dentists used to use to capture an impression of your teeth?  Many people couldn’t undergo impressions without gagging, so some avoided them altogether.  The dentist or assistant had to hold a tray full of that gooey mess in your mouth for at least a full minute, sometimes longer for specific materials. 

Digital impressions have zero goo.  The wand that captures the pictures may feel bulky to some people, and we can take a short break during the scanning process, if necessary.


As we stated earlier, we only have to capture one good digital impression, no matter what we are using it for, because it is reproducible.  We can quickly capture the “impressions” of all of the upper and lower teeth as well as the bite within less than two minutes.  There is minimal cleanup and no rush to get the impressions into the lab.  We love the efficiency of digital impressions, and our patients do, too.

More Questions about Digital Impressions?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer.  They can answer any question you have about digital impressions or other advanced technology that we use in our office.

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