3D scanners are devices that analyze objects of interest in order to collect data on its shape and appearance so that 3-dimensional, digital models are constructed, useful for a wide variety of applications.
Digital 3D has increasingly been prominent in dental radiology since the advent of computed tomography. Soft tissue volumetric data and surface topography can be measured accurately, whereas in 2-dimensional radiography, only linear angles, areas and distances can be measured. The ability to capture images in 3 dimensions has opened up new ways for observation and analyses.
Prosthodontics:There are at least 2 methods of usage of the 3D scanner in prosthodontic restorations. One is the use of the scanner in the laboratory and the second is the use of intraoral camera in the dental office. In the first method, the process begins in the dental chair wherein if a crown, for example is needed, the damaged tooth is drilled and a plastic impression from the patient is taken. The impression is then sent to the laboratory where a stone master model and a crown made of wax are created using conventional methods. The 3D process starts with the scanner, where a model of the tooth stump is captured for 3 minutes with an accuracy of 20 micrometers (Geomagic 2004). The scanner, looking like a microwave oven with 3D Scanner 3 a turntable that tilts, captures then the data from different angles to produce 15 point clouds of
geometric samples of the tooth stump model (Geomagic 2004). The data is then processed in the control software, which is pre-installed in the computer connected to the scanner.