Matthew David McNutt, DDS, MS, PA
Orthodontics for Children, Teens & Adults

3D Scanning of Teeth


Goopy Molds of Your Teeth Are Out! Our New 3-D Tooth Scanner is In!

Ask us about how we can scan your teeth comfortably in minutes instead of getting an impression of your teeth. We can scan teeth before and after Invisalign or braces, for retainers and almost any gizmo Dr. McNutt needs!

O rthodontists have traditionally used plaster models of teeth in order to carefully evaluate their patients.  Traditionally, plaster models of teeth are obtained by making an impression of the teeth in the mouth with material called alginate. Many people are familiar with dental alginate impressions at the dental office or with an orthodontist.  An alginate powder and water mixture are used to create a smooth gooey substance.  A metal or plastic impression tray (that fits the general shape of a patient’s teeth and gums) is filled with this gooey substance.  The impression tray filled with mixed alginate is then inserted into the mouth and firmly impressed over the teeth and gums to capture a representation of the the dental anatomy.  The patient must sit very still and allow the material to undergo a physical change from gooey to firmly set.  Then the tray is removed, revealing an impression of the teeth and gums.  This impression is then filled with a plaster cast mixture  and left to harden.  After the plaster cast hardens, it is separated from the impression and reveals a plaster cast of the patient’s teeth.

Models of teeth formed from plaster serve many purposes for the orthodontist.  For example, when orthodontic treatment is complete, a plaster cast of the teeth is created and shipped via mail to an orthodontic lab so that a retainer can be made to hold the teeth in place after removal of braces.  The same process occurs with Invisalign. However, in the future, almost all physical plaster models of teeth will be replaced by 3-D digital models on a computer.

New technologies are emerging to create  3-D digital models of teeth directly in the mouth with an intra-oral scanner.  Imagine a scanner that is about the size of an electric tooth brush being used to scan your teeth and in less than five minutes, a highly accurate 3-D model of your teeth is rendered by a computer.  This 3-D model could then be used for many different purposes, such as:

  • Initial diagnosis and treatment planning
  • To capture the progress of the teeth during treatment
  • To capture a 3-D model of the teeth after treatment is complete
  • To make retainers and other orthodontic appliances

In most cases, this technology will replace the need to make alginate impressions, which are often messy and not very comfortable. 


Cary OrthodonticsOffice Address
301 Ashville Avenue,
Suite 101 Cary NC, 27518
Phone (919) 887-6350
(919) 887-6351
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Clayton OrthodonticsOffice Address
400 Tew Court, Suite 108
Clayton NC, 27520
Phone (919) 553-4512
Fax (919) 553-6097
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