Overcome Burnout by Adding Impression-Less Intraoral Digital Scanners To Your Practice

Overcome Burnout by Adding Impression-Less Intraoral Digital Scanners To Your Practice

The Technology

Optical impression-less digital scanners are some of the most impressive equipment on the dental market today. Most have gone away with the need for powder, are in color, capture images quickly, and are super accurate. I feel this technology has also made me a better dentist. Now I can scan the crown prep, blow it up on the big screen, check the margins and occlusal clearance, look for undercuts, and if needed, go back and re-prep and re-scan until I am happy.


It’s not just me that loves the intraoral scanner.  My staff loves using it more than traditional impressions. No more handling of dirty, contaminated, or bloody impressions. No need to pour up models or worry if one gets lost or broken. The digital scan file will be in the patient’s digital chart for you to access if needed—even years from now.


I delegate so they can scan for night guards, bleaching trays, study models, and surgical guides, and have them finish up some scans for crowns after I have captured the prepped tooth, margins, and occlusion. They are super fast with it; some staff are faster than I am and can do an entire arch in a couple of minutes. They feel very involved with the technology, and I hear them explaining the tech to the patients. This is great for culture. I couldn’t picture myself going back to traditional impressions.

Lab Quality and Turnaround Time

This was the most considerable hesitation for me. However, I was very comfortable and quick with a traditional impression, and our dental labs fabricated predictable restorations.

However, now, with an impression-less scanner, my crowns have returned with a shorter turnaround time. Instead of the standard 2.5 to 3-week turnaround, the cases are back in my office in 7 – 10 days. The accuracy of the cases has been even better than expected. The scanning software allows me to trace a tricky margin if needed, and typically, the cases require minimal adjustment and hardly ever a redo. Chair time is less, which means more production time to do other procedures.

Patient Experience

Our patients are wowed by the technology and are very impressed with the scanner. Most of them hated the traditional goopy impressions of alginate or polyvinyl. Especially the gaggers who dreaded impressions. I first explained that “this is not an x-ray, and there is no radiation.  It is a camera that will quickly take hundreds of images of your teeth and gums. And with its artificial intelligence, it will accurately reproduce your teeth and mouth.”

They are super impressed and love seeing their mouth being quickly reproduced on the screen in front of them. I also allow them to use the mouse and manipulate the model after the case has been sent. They get so interested because it is their mouth they see right in front of them.

A Gateway to More Dental Treatments

When patients see their digitally scanned mouth up on the computer screen, many will want to do more dental work, such as cosmetic work, or replace old restorations with newer, more esthetic ones. I will rotate the patient’s jaw and show them the buccal occlusal and bite views.

We can see this in areas of recession and root exposure, fracture lines, old amalgams, occlusal wear, etc. A patient often wants to improve on one or many other places after seeing these optical images.

Return on Investment

I consider the investment in some technologies as part of my marketing budget. In previous installments, I wrote about guided implantology, sleep and airway, and 3D printing. They all can be considered a part of your marketing. Your patients will tell their friends and family how their dentist (that’s you) has invested and uses all of this incredible technology and how you are a state-of-the-art office. Why do we market? Most of the time, it is to get new, ideal, high-quality patients in the door. Having these high-tech and sometimes expensive machines in our office is marketing in its own way.

Which One to Get?

It depends. Especially if this is your first go around with impression-less scanners. Some systems are more open, and some have hefty monthly subscription or maintenance fees. You need to figure out what you will use it for and how much support you need. Warranty can also be a significant factor. Do your homework and ask your peers. Maybe go into their office and see it in action. The important thing in technology (costly ones) is to use it. You don’t want it to become a dusty, expensive clothing rack that sits in the corner.


A picture is worth a thousand words. A digital scan is worth countless words, in my opinion. As I said, I couldn’t imagine going back to analog impression methods. It’s time to drop the goop and pick up a scanner. You, your staff, and your patients will thank you and wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.

About the Author

Dr Eric Block
Dr. Eric Block is a full-time practicing dentist in Acton, Massachusetts, husband, and father of two kids. He is known as The Stress-Free Dentist and hosts the Stress-Free Dentist Podcast.
He is the author of three non-fiction books and one children’s book. He lectures nationwide, helping dentists become more efficient, productive, and less stressed. He is the co-founder of the International Academy of Dental Life Coaches or IADLC.com, which matches dental professionals with life coaches who understand dentistry.

He is a wellness ambassador for the American Dental Association and former chairman of the Health and Wellness Committee for the Massachusetts Dental Society.