3D dental models or digital models in dentistry.

Jun 4, 2023 | 3d print

The 3D dental models They are increasingly common in the area of dentistry and all its specialties, but this technology is often not fully understood or has many misconceptions around it. In this article We will clarify once and for all everything related to this technology and how they compare to plaster models.

What are 3D digital models?

Digitalization involves transforming information from the physical world into data.

In the dental field, Digital models are a digital representation of oral structures of the patient.

A digital model is, in essence, a file that contains a set of data that represents the specific shape and anatomy of the patient's mouth.

In addition to capturing tooth structure, these digital models also may contain additional information, as the intermaxillary relationship and personal information of the patient. In this way, digital models are not only a three-dimensional representation of the patient's anatomy, but also a medical record with relevant information for dental treatment.

Thanks to digitalization, it has been achieved improve precision and efficiency in dentistry, improving care and treatment results.

How do you obtain a digital dental model?

Modelos Dentales 3D

Digital models can be obtained by using a scanner, either intraoral or models, and then they are interpreted by software on a computer to display them in three dimensions.

In the case of a intraoral scanner, it glides smoothly over the teeth and gums, capturing high-resolution images of the mouth from different angles. On the other hand, in a model scanner Plaster models or impressions of the mouth previously taken with conventional dental materials are used.

Once the images have been captured, using specialized algorithms and softwareThe data is processed and a three-dimensional digital model is generated accurate. This digital model faithfully represents the shape and anatomy of the patient's mouth.

Benefits of 3D dental models in dentistry

Three-dimensional models are different. to plaster models in several aspects and can have several advantages such as:

Ventajas de los modelos digitales


One of the advantages of digital dental models is their efficiency. The process of capturing the oral structure through a scan and viewing it on a computer is undoubtedly faster and more efficient than taking an impression, pouring it, and waiting for the cast to harden.

In terms of efficiency, it also allows us Send this information in seconds via Internet. Can search and find quickly what we are looking for with just a few clicks or pressing a couple of keys and organize everything in a simple way. This allows us to work more efficiently and prevents us from having to search through drawers or drawers to find the models.


A plaster model is a fragile object that can fall, break and degrade over time by absorbing moisture and eventually deforming. In contrast, a digital dental model allows us preserve information intact over time, avoiding these problems.

But what happens if the computer is damaged, burned or infected with viruses?

The solution is in the cloud. With a suitable backup and managing information Properly and with a reliable antivirus, we can protect our data and preserve it without major risks.

The digital models They can remain safe for many years if we take digital security measures to store them and preserve them properly.

Modelos dentales digitales vs impresiones convencionales

Patient comfort

Digital dental models mean less invasiveness compared to plaster models. Using intraoral scanners eliminates the need to make physical impressions of the patient, which can be uncomfortable and cause nausea in some patients.

Furthermore, although it is uncommon, some patients may develop allergic processes to printing materials. This risk is reduced in the digital flow.


The three-dimensional models They can be a powerful marketing tool, since they allow the current situation and potential results to be presented in a visual and attractive way.

By using 3D software, it is possible to create simulations and show the patient what their teeth would look like after treatment. This not only provides a more interactive experience and personalized, but also allows patients to better understand the benefits they can obtain after dental care.

Digital dental models are also a great tool for online marketing. social networks and websites, since they allow you to create content and share images and videos that highlight the expected results.

Advantages of 3D dental models versus plaster models.

Although both can analyze anatomy and detect pathology, digital models offer significant advantages over conventional models.

Carry out a mount on a digital articulator is much easier and faster than doing it in a conventional articulator, but it also gives us the possibility of analyzing occlusion in ways that were not possible before.

He digital articulator It allows us to observe cross sections of any section of the models and analyze them from different perspectives, things that cannot be achieved without destroying a plaster model.

It also allows us to view through a color map the areas with greater intercuspation or proximity.

He Virtual montage allows you to observe the changes that occur at the level of the condyle, not just changes in the teeth. This provides more information to better understand the occlusion than with a conventional cast model.

Digital models also allow you to see the changes over time, especially in cases of orthodontics or orthopedics. By superimposing structures we will be able to compare the initial situation with the current one in a given period, something that is impossible with plaster models.

Digital models and 3D printing

He computer aided design and manufacturing are processes that take advantage of digital dental models to create a wide range of devices and prosthetics. From braces to aligners and surgical guides. The micrometric precision achieved with digital design is undoubtedly impressive.

Most of the time, there is no need to obtain a physical model, since these devices can be designed digitally and then be 3D printed in minutes. This cad cam method allows you to obtain a spectacular and precise fit in the patient's mouth.

Modelos dentales Digitales para diseño de sonrisa

Another significant advantage of computer-aided design is the ability to create more efficient and effective designs compared to the analog method. For example, when performing a wax-up, interchangeable tooth libraries can be used or the patient's anatomy can be replicated to create a prosthesis that has exact characteristics of its contralateral counterpart.

Also, it is possible to combine other records, such as photographs, facial scans or tomography, in different flows such as smile design. This allows not only dental aspects to be considered, but also facial and cranial considerations, achieving a more complete and personalized result in just a few steps.

Finally, digital dental models have the advantage of being able become physical models through 3D printing. Although it is not always necessary to have a physical model, in cases such as the manufacture of aligners or retainers, 3D printing is a magnificent tool.

The same model can be replicated as many times as necessary, which is especially useful if a new retainer needs to be manufactured for the patient or if we want to create a duplicate when the patient loses it.

Disadvantages of 3D dental models

3D dental models they are not perfect and there are some limitations of this technology:

Modelos digitales e impresión 3D

In the case of edentulous patients, where the scanner can only capture the surface and do not put pressure on the tissues, the adaptation of the prosthesis may be compromised.

Besides, andn situations where a molar is missing or where a tooth is very inclined, as in partially edentulous patients, it can be difficult to capture all the information necessary due to certain limitations of this technology, such as the ability of light to travel to certain areas.

While there are solutions to overcome these problems, it is important to note that scanners are not perfect.

It is necessary to consider that a additional investment, since implementing digital dental models in practice would involve the acquisition of a scanner. Therefore, it is essential to consider both the technical aspects and the associated costs before making the decision to incorporate this technology in the office.


3D dental models have revolutionized dentistry and surely they are not going to disappear. They have numerous advantages in terms of precision, efficiency and customization.

Although there are some challenges to implementing this technology, its ability to improve treatment planning, device and prosthetic manufacturing, as well as communication with patients, makes them a valuable tool in today's dental practice.

If you have interest in implement digital models in your office or laboratory, we have a course that will teach you step by step everything you need to know about this technology and that I am sure will greatly facilitate your path in digital dentistry.

See everything this training contains here:


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