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June 11, 2024

We always get questions from dental professionals worldwide - which intraoral scanner should I get?

It's for this reason that the Institute of Digital Dentistry exists! 

This is why the team at the iDD works hard to give you the best and most up-to-date information to help answer your queries. We write various intraoral scanner (IOS) reviews, 3D printer reviews, and iDD Compares.

At the Institute of Digital Dentistry, we’re very lucky to be able to test all our intraoral scanners on real cases and real patients within a clinical environment. By doing so, we can provide an honest and unbiased review when comparing the performance of each intraoral scanner.

I scanned this patient with a 37 crown prep, with three different scanners on the same day:

From top to bottom:  Shining 3D Aoralscan 3, Medit i700 W, and CEREC Primescan.

Keep reading to see the results of the individual scans - pictures of the color scan, exported STLs, tessellated mesh, and a close-up of the prep margin. 


Click the button below to have a closer look at the high-res images of the scans included in this iDD Compares.


Individual Scans in their Native Software

As well all know by now, every intraoral scanner on the market is equipped with its own built-in scanning software. Most scanners can remove various scan artifacts such as movable soft tissue, cheeks, and tongue through AI. With some performing better than others.

We can preview how these scanners are able to capture color using the scanner’s native software.  

Every scanner captures color slightly differently depending on how accurately the scanner can pick up the light bouncing back off the prep and adjacent teeth.

The processed, colored scans of the same tooth preparation were captured using three different scanners, as previewed in their native software.

As you can see, there are notable differences in the color between the 3 different scans. 

SHINING 3D’s scan seems the brightest compared to Medit’s i700 W scan, which appears much duller.

We can also see that the CEREC Primescan scan is much more “illustrative” than the other two and less photorealistic than SHINING 3D. 

This purely comes down to personal preference - if you prefer realistic scans with image-like capture of the intraoral structures or a more illustrative representation.

Monochromatic scans can also be taken and previewed in their native software. These scans provide a better view of the quality of the prep, and is even recommended to check for any scan issues that would not be as obvious when viewed in color.

The processed monochromatic scans of the same tooth preparation were captured using three different scanners, as previewed in their native software.

It’s interesting to note the differences between the three scans when previewing it in monochrome. 

The CEREC Primescan possesses more definition with the occlusal morphology, which is visible with the different shades and shadows.

Exported Scans in Third-Party Software

Taking intraoral scans can be a quick and easy alternative for impression taking. 

Most intraoral scanners consist of an open architecture to allow for scans to be exported and sent to labs. These scans are usually exported in three various formats - STL, PLY or OBJ files.

STL files are exported as monochromatic scans, whereas OBJ and PLY files store color and texture. 

Not all intraoral scanners can export OBJ and/or PLY files, whereas STL files are widely used as a default setting across the market.

This particular set of scanners is capable of exporting scans in these formats: 

  • SHINING 3D Aoralscan 3 and Medit i700 W - STL, PLY and OBJ

  • CEREC Primescan - STL only (unless connected to a lab via DS connect and then PLY can be exported lab side)

Intraoral Scanner

STL

PLY

OBJ

SHINING 3D Aoralscan 3

6 MB

6.2 MB

8 MB

Medit i700 Wireless

4.8 MB

2 MB

4.8 MB

CEREC Primescan

24.9 MB

-

-

As STL files are considered simple files, the higher resolution or encoding of larger-sized objects requires more facets (triangles within the tessellation) to cover the 2D surface of the scan. 

As both the more expensive and deemed more accurate scanner used during this comparison, CEREC Primescan captured more of the movable tissue than the other intraoral scanners, contributing to its larger file size. This correlates to the larger size STL file of the scan captured by CEREC Primescan at 24.9 MB. 

Labs use third-party CAD software; in this case, we used Medit Design to preview the received STL, PLY, or OBJ files and create restorations based on these scans. 

By exporting the scans outside their native software, we are able to view the scans objectively without the customized color and optimized surface rendering of the individual scanner’s built-in software. 

All scans were exported in an STL format and previewed in the Medit Design app, with the close-up of the prep margin line and the tessellated meshes of each scan as previewed in the Medit Design app. 

We can also use Medit Design or any other third-party software to take a closer look at the amount and detail of data captured within each scan. 

When we observe the close-up of the preps and their tessellated mesh, Primescan seems to have the densest mesh, closely followed by Aoralscan 3 and i700 W. 

There are yet to be any studies investigating the clinical significance of mesh density, but in this case, a denser mesh does not necessarily indicate a ‘better scan.’

Prep margin lines can also be reviewed using this software. 

Aoralscan 3 wasn’t able to capture as much detail as the i700 W or Primescan when looking at the margin lines from all viewpoints. We can also see that it possessed the least dense mesh.

It’s pretty obvious determining which IOS picked up the best detail - CEREC Primescan. Numerous research and data corroborate this, as Dentsply Sirona’s CEREC Primescan is commonly dubbed the gold standard of intraoral scanners and one of the most accurate on the market

For this reason, we allocated Primescan as our point of reference to view the deviations of the scans when aligned using Medit Design’s Deviation Display mode.

Deviation map of the scans compared to our reference CEREC Primescan and sectional view.

There seems to be very little deviation around the prep area. 

Based on the colored deviation key, we can see that the scan meshes are -0.50 to 1.0 mm deviated from the scan taken with CEREC Primescan. 

Within the same Display mode, we can also view the aligned scans in a sectional view, in which we can see that there is minimal difference between the scans.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that the precision in capturing the details of the restoration preparation may vary slightly based on the combination of the clinician's scanning technique and the specific scanner used. 

This variation can potentially influence the final outcome of the dental lab technicians' restoration margin.

Which IOS or type of cases would you like to feature in an iDD Compares? 

Leave a comment below about what you’d like us to compare next.


Click the button below to have a closer look at the high-res images of the scans included in this iDD Compares.


About the author 

Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny

Dr Ahmad is a global leader in digital dentistry and intraoral scanners, carrying out lectures as a KOL for many companies and industry. He is one of the few in the world who owns and has tested all mainstream scanners and CAD/CAM systems in his clinic. Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny is a full-time private dentist in New Zealand and the Director of The Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD), a world-leading digital dentistry education provider. iDD offers live courses, masterclasses, and an online training platform, with a mission to ensure dentists globally have easy and affordable access to the best digital dentistry training possible.

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