Dental hospital in Somerset uses special 3D scanner to end the use of dental putty

By Guest author

17th Sep 2023 | Local News

The League of Friends has been supporting the hospital for more than 60 years with state of the art equipment
The League of Friends has been supporting the hospital for more than 60 years with state of the art equipment

Everyone who's visited the dentist is likely to be aware of, or has experienced, having physical impressions of their teeth, sometimes referred to as "moulds" – and heard the stories of strange tasting, gooey putty, of course.

The same method has been used for many years at the orthodontic department at Musgrove Park, but now, thanks to an amazing donation by the hospital's League of Friends, those days are at an end.

The League has purchased a special 3D digital intraoral scanner, which our dental nurses and clinicians use to create an excellent quality virtual impression that appears straightaway as an image on a computer screen – removing the need for the lengthy process of creating a physical mould, which is then cast into a plaster of Paris model.

Mr Nick Mitchell, a consultant orthodontist and clinical lead for orthodontics at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"Being able to use this 3D digital scanner is particularly good news for those patients who struggle with the conventional method.

"The scanner allows our dental nurses and clinicians to take a 3D digital scan of the teeth and gums, with patients able to sit in an upright position, and even have rest periods while the impression is being taken – a much more comfortable experience for them.

"It also means that we no longer need to use plastic impression trays filled with impression material that occasionally causes a choking sensation in those with a strong gag reflex.

"The digital scanner allows us to analyse what's going on and how we might improve the bite and straighten the teeth. The image file can also be sent to a dental laboratory where it can be used to print 3D models, or manufacture removable orthodontic appliances.

"It's simply a much better experience all round for patients, improving their understanding of what's going on because they can see the image on a screen, and making it easier for them to visualise the treatment options. This is much more effective than using the old style plaster models.

"Being able to physically see the dentition in colour on a screen means it's possible to have a more meaningful conversation with the patient, and they're therefore much more likely to stay engaged in their treatment cycle of orthodontics, which commonly lasts for 18 months or more.

"It's better for the environment too, and helps to free up space at the hospital that we previously needed to store patients' models, usually for up to 10 years.

"Now we're in the process of changing the use of our old model box room into a clinical space, with enough room for our surgeons to perform minor procedures under local anaesthetic.

"Patients have told us that they really like this new scanner, are impressed with the technology, and are particularly pleased that we no longer need to take physical impressions.

"I want to say a special thanks to our League of Friends who've made this possible by kindly funding this state-of-the-art machine – helping us to use the latest technology for the direct benefit of our patients."

Peter Renshaw, Chairman of the League of Friends at Musgrove Park Hospital, said it was important for the League to support projects like this, to keep Musgrove at the cutting edge of medical treatment.

"The League of Friends has been supporting the hospital for more than 60 years with state of the art equipment, and I want to thank everyone who has made that possible through legacies and donations," he said.

"Anyone wanting to help with the latest appeal for a specialist operating table can do so by going onto


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