Expert Doctor

Digital Dentistry

Richard Sprague, DDS

Beverly Hills, CA

Digital Dentistry

Digital dentistry is the use of dental technology or a device which uses computer-controlled mechanisms rather than simply using mechanical or electrical components to create digital imaging. This technology has made it possible to achieve results in one day that would have taken six months with previous methods. A few years ago, a dentist would create a rubber or putty impression of the patient’s mouth for cosmetic dentistry procedures. The process of preparing the mold and dyes would take a few hours. Consequently, it was very time consuming and costly. Digital imaging allows the dentist to take digital impressions and make virtual models within 10 to 15 minutes. Some cosmetic dentistry treatments, such as crowns and veneers, can be fabricated in under an hour.

Am I a Good Candidate for Digital Dentistry?  

A GOOD CANDIDATE for digital dentistry includes:

  • Any patient considering a dental bridge, crown or veneer
  • Male or female patients who do not want to wait for several weeks for treatments
  • Patients who are considering dental implants and would like to see their potential outcome
  • Patients who are considering dentures
  • Patients looking to improve some, or all, of the appearance of the mouth

Patients who are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES are:

  • Someone who does not have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished by digital dentistry
  • Anyone who is not willing to properly take care of the dental crown, veneers, etc. that are created at the end of the digital dentistry process

How is Digital Dentistry Performed?

Digital dentistry is not a surgical treatment and does not cause any discomfort. Therefore, it does not require any anesthesia and it can be performed in the dentist’s office. Digital dentistry involves using an intraoral scan to create a digital impression of the patient’s mouth. The scanner is usually hand-held and wireless. Some devices use a blue LED and require a contrasting medium or powder while others just use laser technology and no powder. The dentist can immediately check the image on a laptop and send it to his or her office or electronically send it to a lab. The dentist, or a dental technician in a lab, will create the needed restorations. The scans can also be uploaded to dental software and digitally enhanced so the patient can view the possible outcomes.

Digital dentistry is often performed with cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening, crowns, veneers and dental implants.

What is the Cost of Digital Dentistry?

Digital dentistry is generally offered at no cost to the patient since there are no films and the images can be stored online. Any cost is included as part of the charge for the dental appointment.

Recovery and Downtime

Since digital dentistry is not a surgical procedure, and there are no incisions or injections, there is no RECOVERY or DOWNTIME involved with it. Patients can resume all activities immediately after digital dentistry. Any recovery or downtime would happen after the dental treatment itself is performed.


Patients can immediately see the results of digital dentistry when used as 3D X-rays for displaying dental issues or when uploaded to dentistry software to show the potential outcome of cosmetic dentistry procedures. Images can be produced in about 10 minutes and the dentist can provide before and after imaging sequences to prospective patients.

Limitations of Digital Dentistry

The limitations of digital dentistry include:

  • The ability of the dentist to master the digital software
  • Limitations of patient positioning due to the size of the device

Risks of Digital Dentistry

The only possible risk involved with digital dentistry is low levels of radiation exposure. However, the radiation from digital imagery is less than 10% than traditional X-rays.

Seeing the Results before the Treatment

Digital dentistry has made it possible for patients to experience results that would have taken weeks or months to see with past technology and techniques. Digital dentistry can take the mystery out of cosmetic dentistry and reveal the potential outcome prior to the treatment. Patients should consult with a board-certified doctor to see if his, or her, office uses digital dentistry technology to show the possible outcome of a cosmetic dental procedure.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - SP

Based on an exclusive interview with Richard Sprague, DDS in Beverly Hills, CA