Doctors are always looking for ways to save—save teeth, save patients time, save money. What about saving the environment? Without even realizing it, dentistry has a huge impact in the Earth: developing film requires toxic chemicals and fixers, paper charting can use up to 10,000 pieces of paper a year. The overarching solution is to switch to digital solutions, e.g., digital sensors instead of film, digital charting instead of paper files. Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’ll take closer look at one such digital solution that can decrease dentistry’s footprint on the environment—intraoral scanning.

Let’s compare some of the aspects of the traditional impression workflow with using an intraoral scanner and how each affects the environment:

Traditional Impression

Environmental Impact Digital Impression

Environmental Impact

Plastic tray to take impression Ends up in landfill; 450 years to break down Few consumables, no trays whatsoever Minimal
Polyvinyl siloxane (PVS) impression Ends up in landfill; never breaks down Impression is digital, no physical impression None
Courier drives to practice to pick up impression More cars on the road; carbon emissions Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab None
OR impression is shipped to lab Paper, cardboard or styrofoam packaging; fuel used by delivery truck or airplane Digital impression is sent via secure portal to lab None


Keep in mind that, on average, each dentist in North America takes one to two PVS impressions per day. Considering there are approximately 229,036 dentists in North America, you can imagine how quickly those plastic trays and discarded PVS impressions add up in a landfill.

Instead, consider using an intraoral scanner and adopting a digital impressions workflow. With an intraoral scanner, doctors can cutback many of the consumables associated with traditional impressions, including plastic trays, alginate powder and PVS materials. This not only keeps these harmful plastics out of landfills but keeps more money in a doctor’s pocket. Since the impressions are digital, there’s no need to waste paper or cardboard on carefully packaging physical impressions or having a courier use a car to pick up the impressions. Instead, digital files are shared with labs and referrals through a secure web portal. This keeps cars off the road and ensures impressions don’t break or shrink/expand during shipping. Plus, if doctors choose to mill their own restorations in-office, there’s no need to have final restorations shipped or delivered back to the practice.

Digital impressions have numerous benefits to doctors, staff and patients such as less mess, less time and faster turnaround with the lab. This Earth Day, consider the added benefit an intraoral scanner and digital impressions could have on the environment.

Any questions on intraoral scanning, please feel free to call the lab and speak to our digital impression specialist Chris Kopas 250-861-3333 or email

The lab offers no charge Digital Impression Training at the lab monthly featuring different intraoral scanning systems. Check our for dates.

(originally posted on Carestream Dental website)