Statement of problem: Using intraoral scans for removable dentures has been questioned because of a suggested lack of accuracy. However, data regarding the accuracy of digital intraoral complete-arch scans are sparse, present some methodological issues, and mostly come from in vitro studies on dentate casts, which are very different from edentulous arches.
Purpose: The purpose of this clinical study was to evaluate 3D differences between intraoral scans (IOS) and conventional impressions of edentulous arches by means of digital analysis.
Material and methods: Ten maxillary and 10 mandibular edentulous arches were investigated. For each of them, IOS was performed, and a custom tray was digitally designed based on these scans. Trays were built by using a 3D printer and used to make a conventional impression with a polysulfide impression material. The conventional impression was scanned immediately by using the same intraoral scanner and by the same dentist. Standard tessellation language (STL) files of IOS and the scans of the corresponding conventional impressions (CIS) were superimposed with a 2-phase best-fit alignment in a reverse engineering software program. The corresponding full-scan, 3D mean distance was measured. This procedure was repeated after trimming the IOS and CIS to eliminate peripheral areas not present in both files, as well as nonmatching areas caused by practical aspects related to obtaining the IOS (mobile tissue stretching) and the conventional impressions (mobile tissue compression and folding at the margin of impression), which could have impaired alignment and, consequently, measurement accuracy. The mean distance between the full and trimmed IOS and CIS was statistically investigated, and subgroup analysis was performed for the maxillary and mandibular arches. The statistical significance of the differences between the 2 impression methods was also investigated.
Results: The full-scan mean distance between the IOS and CIS (-0.19 ±0.18 mm) was significantly different from that of the trimmed scan mean distance (-0.02 ±0.05 mm), with no significant differences for maxillary and mandibular arches. The differences between the IOS and CIS were statistically significant for full scans; they were not significant for trimmed scans, except for the maxillary subgroup.
Conclusions: The mean distance between the IOS and CIS may be significantly different if they are not properly superimposed. The mean distance (-0.02 ±0.05 mm) between the IOS and CIS falls within the range of mucosa resilience. Thus, 3D differences between the IOS and CIS can be attributed to the different physics behind the 2 impression methods and not to defects in accuracy of one method compared with the other. The size of the measured difference between the 2 impression methods was not statistically significant and was not clinically significant for removable denture fabrication.
Copyright © 2019 Editorial Council for the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.