Intraoral Scanners in Dentistry: A Review of the Current Literature

Francesco Mangano; Andrea Gandolfi; Giuseppe Luongo; Silvia Logozzo


BMC Oral Health. 2017;17(149) 

In This Article


Intraoral scanners (IOS) are devices for capturing direct optical impressions in dentistry.[1–3] Similar to other three-dimensional (3D) scanners, they project a light source (laser, or more recently, structured light) onto the object to be scanned, in this case the dental arches, including prepared teeth and implant scanbodies (i.e. cylinders screwed on the implants, used for transferring the 3D implant position).[2,3] The images of the dentogingival tissues (as well as the implant scanbodies) captured by imaging sensors are processed by the scanning software, which generates point clouds.[3,4] These point clouds are then triangulated by the same software, creating a 3D surface model (mesh).[3,4] The 3D surface models of the dentogingival tissues are the result of the optical impression and are the 'virtual' alternative to traditional plaster models.[4,5]

Although IOS are becoming widespread in clinical dental practice, only a few reviews on the use of these devices are available in the literature.[5–8]

The purpose of the present narrative review was therefore to:

  • identify the advantages and/or disadvantages of using optical impressions compared to conventional impressions;

  • investigate if optical impressions are as accurate as conventional impressions;

  • evaluate the differences between the IOS currently available commercially;

  • determine the current clinical applications and limitations in the use of IOS;

taking into consideration all studies currently available in the scientific literature.