Digital dentistry and how it works

A women smiling after experiencing a digital dentistry experience

The world of digital dentistry stands at the pinnacle of modern dental advancements, transforming how professionals approach treatments and how patients experience them. As we journey through this piece, we’ll delve into the revolutionary world of digital dental solutions. From core concepts to its integration in treatments like veneers, orthodontics, and implants, witness the profound impact of digital tools on precision, efficiency, and comfort.

What is digital dentistry?

Digital dentistry refers to integrating computer-based technologies, including hardware devices and software applications, into the dental practice. It aims to equip dental practitioners with computer-assisted tools that enhance treatment delivery. With advancements like digital scanning, dentists can now take impressions, diagnose, or strategise treatments without traditional mechanical instruments. For dental laboratories, digital tools such as impression scanners and design software expedite the production of dental products, minimising manual intervention.

Examples of Digital Technology used in Dentistry

Digital Smile Design

Seeking a superior method to enhance your smile? OptiSmile employs Digital Smile Design (DSD) to offer a transformative approach, also known as CAD/CAM technology. With DSD, we collaboratively evaluate the potential improvements to your smile, considering the existing state of your teeth, and provide a realistic projection of your future smile

iTero® Scanner

Experience next-level precision with the iTero® Scanner. This avant-garde, non-invasive tool instantly generates intricate 3D visuals of your teeth and gums. At OptiSmile, we use these impeccable digital impressions to craft customised treatment strategies. Its ergonomic handheld design ensures not just precision but also your utmost comfort, allowing you to see your treatment possibilities firsthand.

Leica Microscope

Enter the realm of precision with our Leica Microscope, boasting globally acclaimed optics and multi-tiered magnification. Its extraordinary 40x zoom capability empowers us to identify and address dental issues proactively, reducing the likelihood of repeat procedures stemming from overlooked concerns.

Orthophos 3D X-ray

Elevate your dental diagnostics with the Orthophos 3D X-ray. A monumental advancement for our practice, this technology yields impeccably detailed imagery of the oral cavity. This precision ensures early detection of dental challenges, safeguarding against exacerbated issues and associated costs.

The Numbing Wand

Bid farewell to the discomfort of traditional injections. The Numbing Wand, a groundbreaking computer-regulated dental injection system, is here to change the narrative. Where the rush of anaesthetic delivery often causes discomfort, The Numbing Wand ensures a gentle, steady release, significantly diminishing any pain sensation during your session.


ClinCheck is an advanced cloud-powered treatment planning tool, crafted explicitly for Invisalign. Informed by over 15 million smile transformations, this software delivers unmatched precision and efficiency in shaping your smile journey.

Benefits Of Digital Dentistry And Dental Technology

  • Personalised Care: Leading-edge technology like the iTero® Scanner and Digital Smile Design ensures treatments are tailored to individual needs, offering a more targeted and efficient approach to dental care.
  • Enhanced Comfort: With tools such as The Numbing Wand and ergonomic designs of devices like iTero®, patient comfort is paramount, ensuring a more pleasant dental experience.
  • Predictive Results: With Digital Smile Design, patients can preview their prospective smile, ensuring they are completely satisfied before undergoing any procedures.
  • Rapid Diagnostics: Real-time, high-definition imaging tools, such as the iTero® Scanner and Orthophos 3D X-ray, lead to quicker diagnosis, saving patients’ time and reducing uncertainty.
  • Minimised Re-visits: The precision of the Leica Microscope means issues are identified and resolved in their early stages, reducing the need for multiple visits and repeat procedures.
  • Decreased Discomfort: Traditional dental X-rays and injections can cause unease. Modern technologies, like the Orthophos 3D X-ray and The Numbing Wand, are designed to reduce or eliminate discomfort, making for a more pleasant experience.
  • Assured Accuracy: The accuracy of state-of-the-art tools like the iTero® Scanner and Orthophos 3D X-ray ensures that treatment plans are based on the most detailed and accurate information available.
  • Enhanced Awareness: By being able to visualise their dental issues and potential treatments (through tools like the iTero® and Leica Microscope), patients are better informed and can make more educated decisions about their dental care.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Early detection and accurate diagnostics mean fewer complications in the future, leading to potential savings in long-term dental costs.
  • Safer Procedures: The steady, controlled release of anaesthetics from The Numbing Wand and detailed visuals from diagnostic tools mean procedures are safer, with reduced chances of complications.

Digital Dentistry Workflow - A Convenient Approach for Patients

The evolution of digital dentistry has transformed not only the treatment methods but also the patient experience. The standard digital dental workflow, regardless of treatment type, is streamlined into three primary steps:

Digital Impressions & Scanning

Gone are the days of cumbersome moulds and long waiting times. With digital dentistry, the initial step involves capturing a 3D image of the patient’s dentition using our iTERO® 3D scanner. This procedure is swift, usually taking just 2-3 minutes, allowing patients to immediately view a digital representation of their teeth on the screen. Not only does this eliminate potential discomfort associated with traditional moulds, but it also offers a visual and transparent beginning to their dental journey. Even when a conventional impression is used, the scanning time in the lab remains concise, ensuring that the process remains efficient.

Instant Treatment Planning & Design

Utilising advanced Digital Smile Design software, dental professionals can now design restorations and treatment plans more rapidly. Patients benefit immensely from this, as feedback or concerns can be addressed in real-time. This immediate loop of communication ensures that patients are actively involved in their treatment decisions, fostering trust and confidence in the care they’re receiving.

Swift Product Manufacturing

Once the digital designs receive approval, they’re quickly sent to advanced machinery at a dental lab (OptiSmile has a dental lab in-house, making the process even quicker). This efficient process means that patients often need fewer visits. In many cases, they might still be in the chair or clinic, ready to receive or begin treatment soon after the design approval. This quick turnaround drastically reduces the waiting time and multiple visits typical of traditional dental workflows.

Digital Dentistry can help with the following treatments

  1. Dental Veneers
  2. Orthodontics
  3. Dental Implants
  4. Dental Inlays and overlays

Dental Veneers & Digital Smile Design Technology

Digital advancements have brought about a significant transformation in dental veneer treatment. The contemporary veneer procedure begins with a thorough oral consultation and the use of digital 3D scans. This eliminates the discomfort from traditional moulds. Post consultation, Digital Smile Design (DSD) processes are utilised, allowing patients a preview of their transformed smile, and ensuring a tailored and satisfying outcome.

Orthodontics (Invisalign) & Clincheck™ Digital Technology

The digital era has redefined orthodontic treatments, particularly with Invisalign. The process commences with a meticulous examination and the creating a 3D mouth image. Using the Clincheck™ software, a tailored treatment plan addresses individual needs. Each set of aligners ensures gradual alignment, while continuous monitoring guarantees optimal results.

Dental Implants & Digital Dentistry

OptiSmile utilises advanced digital technology to refine the dental implant process. After an initial assessment, Digital Smile Design technology provides a preview of the post-implant smile. The state-of-the-art iTero technology plays a pivotal role in implant creation, ensuring precision and patient satisfaction with the envisaged restored smile.

Dental Inlays and Overlays & iTero Scanner Digital Technology

OptiSmile’s approach to dental inlays and overlays employs innovative technology for optimal results. After an initial tooth assessment, the iTero scanner crafts a precise digital impression, eliminating the inconvenience of traditional methods. With the CEREC CAD-CAM unit, inlays or overlays are prepared within minutes and are generally best suited for the back of the mouth. For the back of the mouth, aesthetic work is prepared with two of the best dental laboratories in Cape Town. While the use of high-quality E-max materials ensures durability and a natural aesthetic finish.

Final thoughts on digital dentistry and how it works

Digital dentistry has undeniably transformed the landscape of dental care, bringing forth an era marked by precision, patient comfort, and efficiency. From the intricate details offered by the iTero® Scanner to the predictive prowess of the Digital Smile Design, it’s evident that the merger of technology and dentistry provides unparalleled benefits to both practitioners and patients. At OptiSmile, our commitment to harnessing the best of this technology is unwavering, promising our patients an experience that’s nothing short of exceptional. Want to experience the pinnacle of digital dentistry firsthand? Don’t wait! Book an appointment online now and elevate your dental journey like never before.

Disclaimer: The information and advice in this blog post are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We are not responsible for any outcomes or decisions based on the information provided here.

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Dr. Clifford Yudelman

Founder & Principal Dentist

As a globally recognised restorative and cosmetic dentistry expert, Clifford brings over 40 years of experience across four continents. A 1983 Bachelor of Dental Science graduate from the University of Witwatersrand, his career has spanned private practices in London, San Diego, Perth, and Cape Town. Currently the founder and principal dentist at OptiSmile, he is celebrated for transforming dental visits into positive experiences and fostering patient confidence through superior dental health, with a commitment to the latest dental technology for improved patient outcomes.

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