Full digital workflow in dentistry – is it ready for us?

Digital technologies have revolutionized dentistry enabling a full treatment workflow of digital image acquisition, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).

Digital imaging including three-dimensional radiographic and optical scanning techniques initiate the digital workflow and are paramount for its successful conduction.

3D radiographic techniques display only hard tissues such as teeth and bone and are sensitive to image artifacts mainly due to metallic restorations.

Therefore, virtual surface models of the teeth are acquired using optical scanning techniques (intra- or extraoral) and combined with radiographic data. The alignment of the radiographic and optical surface data is performed either by the operator or automatically by the software, proven to become a source of inaccuracy with an increasing amount of artefacts.

Extraoral optical scanning of previously fabricated stone casts is highly accurate. Direct intraoral scanning of the tooth surface renders the digital workflow more efficient, however accuracy of intraoral scanning is still limited.

The full digital workflow in dentistry comprising each step between image acquisition and delivery of a dental restoration is already available in clinical routine for short-span implant restorations. Technological limitations still exist and are a focus of research to render workflows more intuitive and accurate.

Learning objectives

  • Knowledge and identification of the components of the full digital workflow in dentistry
  • Understanding of artifact formation in CBCT and consequences for the digital workflow in clinical routine
  • Assessment of indications for intraoral optical scanning and knowledge of its limitations