Today’s blog comes to us courtesy of one of our patients, Matt. Matt is a 42-year-old marketing executive here in Houston. We recently invited him to Bunker Hill Dentistry to try out our new Itero Element 2 intraoral digital scanner. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the process with us, with a couple added notes from practice manager, Ann Le.

Take it away, Matt…

I love new technology, always have. Knowing this, Dr. Le and Ann called me one day to tell me the iTero scanner was coming in, and I should come do a demo, because they know something else about me: going to the dentist makes me kind of anxious.

Let me give you a little background on my dental history. I had braces for two years when I was younger. In fact, the date that I got my braces off from that day forward was my favorite number. I’m not going to share that number here because of all those pesky hackers, but I want to emphasize what a milestone day that was for me.

“Teeth stuff” bugs me. I didn’t like having braces (does anyone?). I always tense up in the dentist chair while getting a cleaning, even though my brain knows there’s really no good reason to do so. When it’s time to pull one of my kids’ teeth at my house, you can be sure that’s not a job Dad is willing to do.

Since getting my braces off, I liked to think that my teeth were pretty darn straight. Admittedly, once I started going to the dentist regularly and spending a little more time scrutinizing my teeth, I had started to notice some stuff. But it was nothing major, at least to my eyes, and certainly not something that I would feel the need to splurge on Invisalign for.

Long story short: I’m a guy who thinks his teeth are A-OK for the most part. Then I had my first encounter with the iTero…


Experiencing iTero from the Chair

Dr. Le turned on the scanner and started doing…whatever it is dentists do over your shoulder while you’re lying back staring at the ceiling. Then with a little wand that looked something like a lightsaber from Star Wars, only smaller, he gently moved it around inside my mouth. What this little tool was actually doing was taking thousands of pictures to create a 3D model of my teeth on the iTero interface. To use another nerdy reference, it reminded me of the map in the old Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda: the more you explore, the more it opens up and shows you what it is. The picture it was creating was like that, except inside your mouth and with your teeth. It’s actually pretty wild. This part was completely painless and took about 10 minutes.

Once the 3D image was rendered and brought up on the touchscreen, Dr. Le started spinning it around and looking at my teeth from impossible angles that I would never have been able to see on my own. [The iTero even lets us select individual teeth and rotate or turn them to help patients visualize how misaligned a particular tooth is. – Ann Le] And I started to notice angles in my teeth, ones that I’d never seen before. By golly, my teeth are not straight after all! There’s actually quite a bit going on in there that’s less than ideal.

Together we studied the occlusion, or how my teeth fit together and where the pressure points in my teeth are. I know this is an issue for me because I’ve been a nightguard wearer for a really long time. In fact, when my luggage was stolen on a trip last year, I was most upset about not having a nightguard. And there in red, green and blue were all of my pressure points where the wear is occurring.


Seeing the Future in the Present

Then, we did a simulation of what my teeth could look like after Invisalign, with the simulation displayed side-by-side with the actual scan of my teeth. Let’s just say that those teeth are a lot straighter than mine. But Dr. Le also explained to me that by adjusting my teeth and my bite, I might be able to relieve the wear points that I’m putting on my back molars. And while he didn’t say it, which I appreciate, by getting Invisalign I could save myself a lot of pain (and money) down the road.

[iTero and Invisalign are produced by the same company, so they integrate beautifully. Although the iTero can also be used with crowns and other traditional applications, Invisalign patients scanned with an iTero experience 7 times fewer fit problems and 10 times fewer rejections. – Ann Le]

A scan with the iTero is a really interesting process and it’s a great tool to have at your trusted dentist. In six months when I come in, I can be scanned again, and we can start to have actual data about the movement of my teeth.

We’re so internet now.