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Donated scanner improves Dental Clinic care, education

Dental care at St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Dental Clinic is taking a step into the future with the donation of an iTero Element Digital Scanner thanks to A.T. Still University. This cutting-edge technology will help improve both the quality of care and educational process at the dental clinic.

As well as caring for underserved populations, the clinic functions as an educational center for both residents in SVdP's AEGD residency program and outside partners. 

“It’s important we move forward with trends in improved dental technology, especially for our patients but also on the educational side,” said Dr. Scott Myers, SVdP clinical dental director.

“It’s not just treating, it’s educating. Residents will need to be comfortable and familiar with daily use of such a scanner. It enhances their skills and prepares them for private practice while offering the underserved quality care.”

So how exactly does this new technology work?

Traditionally, dentists would take a wet impression of a patient’s mouth when treatment requires an individualized fit. With the scanner, doctors in the clinic use a digital wand to get a full mouth scan of the patient’s teeth. Essentially, it is a virtual setup and exact digital replica of the mouth that can be used to create customized crowns, bridges and more. And since it is all digital, the files are easily stored for doctors to refer to later.

“It’s a very accurate representation of whatever procedure you’re doing whether it be crowns, bridges, dentures, and even orthodontics,” Myers said. “This is something for record gathering and record keeping that’s very important. And this is the wave of the future.”

In the video above you can see AEGD resident Betzy Leyva practice performing a scan on fellow resident Aish Subramanian.

According to Myers, the iTero scanner is not something you find in every dental classroom. So access to the scanner at SVdP allows the residents to gain valuable experience using technology they will likely encounter in their future careers.

Not only is this device a great learning tool for residents, but it also has a lot of practical benefits for the dental community, especially in the reduction of cost and waste.  

“This technology eliminates the need for traditional wet impressions and saves us hundreds of dollars on impression material. Just one four pack of tubes costs $200. Considering our financial reliance on community donations, this cost savings is remarkable and can be put toward patient care in other ways.”

None of this would be possible without the generous contributions and support from A.T. Still University specifically ATSU's Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health Dean Dr. Robert Trombly, as well as Dr. Jae Park, Dr. Michael Papademetriou, and Dr. Cliff Running. Not only will this new dental scanner improve patient care, but it will also greatly improve the educational experience for young dentists working in the clinic.