By Carrie Cokely, CDT

With so many scan bodies on the market today it can make it difficult to decipher what makes them unique.  As a dental technician, you are always looking for something that is easy to use, affordable and will give you consistent results. There are some key things that I think are important. Let’s touch on three major factors when considering what type of scan bodies you use in your laboratory. 

Unique design for better alignment of your scans

This is something that is sometimes overlooked by the laboratory owner and is critical to the scan technician. The job of the scan body is to accurately represent the position of the implant in the mouth. When you are scanning a case in your CAD software, it prompts you to align the digital file to the physical scan body.  It can be difficult to match the scan body geometry to your scan if there are not unique design elements to identify.  

Some scan bodies, like Open Implants scan bodies, have 3 unique points that are easy to identify due to the unique geometry.  This allows for alignment and meshing of data and to set you up to produce a great fitting prosthesis. 

It’s all about the interface 

Another element that is very important is the interface of the scan body.  Much like your analogs, these can wear over time and require replacement. At Open Implants we thoughtfully designed our scan bodies with a steel base and peek top for durability, scannability and consistent results. In addition to strength, steel is also detectable intraorally in a radiograph so it can be confirmed that it is properly seated.

Don’t get screwed 

If you think about it, how much do you demand of something so tiny yet so important?  One of the things that I remember from my early scanning days was the screw coming loose very easily and sometimes dropping them. Finding them was impossible!  By the way, why are all dental labs designed with tiles that have tiny specs that resemble the parts we are trying to find? Titanium screws are strong and work well with the titanium implant or analog.  The OI scan bodies have an integral titanium screw that will not fall out. It is also compatible with the implant manufacturer driver. 

There is also a product code on all of our implants to help with easy identification. You haven’t had a bad day until you have dumped all of your scan bodies on the floor!  It is also a bummer to produce a prosthesis that does not fit properly because the wrong scan body was used at the start.  A scan body kit can help you get organized, too!

So, how does this relate to evaluating a new component system?

Many of us have scanned metal abutments and bypassed the use of scan bodies before.  Do I recommend this? No, not for getting the best results with your prosthesis and here’s why.  There is more to this than just the scan. The library is designed to give you the best fit. 

1) A well-designed scan body is going to give you the best scan.  Metal is shiny and not picked up easily by the scanner, even if you spray it.  

2) The library contains the EXACT geometry of the abutment or ti-base. So your crown or bridge will be designed with the best possible geometry to interface with the components you are using. 

3) Your time is money.  When you scan the metal components, you may need to do multiple scans.  For example for a bridge, you will have to do individual scans of each component which adds a significant amount of time.

Whatever system you choose it is important to understand the impact it will have on your laboratory. I recommend using scan bodies for the most accurate fitting prostheses. It is designed to be scanned and will save you a ton of time and frustration trying to scan metal titanium bases. It works well with the library that will give you the exact geometry of the component supporting the restoration. For better work flow and better results, scan bodies are your best bet!

-> For more information, watch a one minute video.