As a CDA , I would like to share my experience with you of how my lab introduced me to the world of Digital Impression Systems and supported me through to a completely modeless digital workflow. Impressions are an important part of the skills learned in school. Conventional impressions with PVS and pouring them up in stone is a challenge that most must master before they are permitted to graduate.

Digital Impressions are covered as an option, however, most CDA’s do not have the ability to use them in vivo until they have graduated and are employed by a dentist who owns a digital scanner. They are then required to learn how to use it proficiently within a short period of time, taught by a team member in the office…usually over their lunch break.

Schell Dental Ceramics, a large dental lab in the BC Interior, created the Schell Learning Centre ,with this in mind. It was created for dental teams to learn about new technology on the market, new workflows that optimize production and tips and tricks for running their practices more effectively. The monthly DT and T Study Club has attracted like minded dental teams with a focus on self improvement and learning. Digital Impression training, which is but one factor of the Learning Centre, allows CDA’s, dentists and dental hygienists to learn how to scan upper arch, lower arch and a bite on many systems, from the 3shape Trios to the Omnicam and others. One benefit for CDA’s is that, in a job search, they can add that to their list of skills which will improve their chances of gaining meaningful employment with a dentist who is looking towards the future. Another benefit of the digital impression training workshops is the ability to send team members and dentists that require IOS training to help expand their practice, to either the Learning Centre or to offices that are already using an IOS system, so that dental offices do not experience downtime or production losses.

As a Certified Dental Assistant who willingly stepped into the IOS ring, I attended a course in 2016 that introduced me to the digital scanning world. The event allowed me to observe the scanning and workflow of three different IOS. Planmeca, 3M and 3Shape Trios. I found the concept of digital scanning very intriguing and started discussing the potential with my principal dentist. My dentist was interested in the idea of IOS, but found the experience to be quite overwhelming. There are many different scanners, a lot of new workflows to learn and the perception is that it is a significant investment. However, if you factor in the cost of our PVS impression materials and trays, the cost was not much of a factor. The result being a delay in deciding to move forward. The other factor to this decision being delayed was the upcoming Schell Dental Ceramics Learning Centre creation and launch. My dentist felt it was important to wait until Schell had this avenue for office-lab communication and learning up and running. In the meantime, I took it upon myself to attempt to learn more on my own, utilizing videos and articles online as well as discussion with some my colleagues who were already using IOS daily. I then attended a Schell Learning Centre Dental team and Tech event in January of 2018. The event was focused on the features and benefits of all IOS systems on the market. The course also allowed for a hands on component with a 3Shape Trios.

Following that event a training workshop was offered at Schell Dental to learn how to use the 3shape Trios IOS. I chose to take a half day of my own time to attend the course and learn how to scan upper and lower full arches and use the software proficiently. As there are so many scanners on the market, myself and the Schell IOS Specialist (Chris Kopas), had a discussion about what scanners would be good for my dentists practice and found that there were two that would be possibly suitable due to the type of practice I worked in. The Omnicam and the Carestream were both a great option for what we were looking for at my office. Learning about scanners by talking with others or doing online research is one thing, but I believe that a hands on opportunity was and is a crucial factor in a decision this large. I then requested a live demo of the CS 3600 in our office as well as an Omnicam IOS. My dentist and I wanted the ability to actually work on a patient, scanning a crown with the companies sales reps and a lab representative by our side to confirm the retraction and preps were optimal for a digital workflow. Both myself and my dentist found the hands on experience invaluable. The patients also had the opportunity to see what may be available in the future and the feedback from both patients was positive.

My dentist was so pleased with my tenacity and confidence in the success of the IOS trials he felt comfortable taking the leap into the digital realm and purchased an Omnicam. He chose the Omnicam because of its cart system, reasonable price, ease of use and ability to keep software updates coming for future growth.

During training, the lab was invited to analyse the scans and give feedback on the impressions as digital impressions can take some time to get used to. The lab also recommended that conventional PVS impressions be sent along with the digital one for the first few weeks which is exactly what we did. This allowed the lab to gather as much valuable information as needed and for the work to be completed no matter what the digital impression looks like.

Schell also asked that the digital scan impressions be sent while the patient is in the chair and utilizing lab chat, feedback provided as to the viability of the impression. This allows dental teams to ensure an amazing final product for the patients so they are happy. This also allows the patients to see that the process is real, involved and taken seriously!

My journey was the same as many CDA’s entering the world of digital impressions. The path of learning about IOS and having it come to fruition can take time and the research needs to be done to make sure that all aspects are learned and understood, but it is our future in dentistry and it is well worth that journey!! Sometimes it takes effort to change our way of practicing but digital dentistry is here to stay and should be for everyone!

Amy Wahl Bio:

Amy was born in Victoria, BC but has called Kelowna home for 30 years. She graduated the CDA program at Okanagan College in 1997 and completed her prosthodontics module shortly thereafter, also through Okanagan College.

Her first job was at Acorn Dental in Kelowna from 1998-2004. She then moved into a career with Dr. David Bobyn in 2004. She did take a leave of absence from that job to work overseas in the main hospital in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia from 2006-2007 under a one year contract. She was able to not only work with a variety of general dentists but also most of the specialities. She also had the opportunity to travel to Peru 2 years ago on a volunteer mission, through KIA, to the small town of Urumbamba to work for a week at the elementary school there to assist with providing dental care for the school children. She is currently assisting Dr Jordan Sanders with the opening of his new dental practice, Knox Mountain Dental in Kelowna BC.

She is happily married with two children and is looking forward to what the future may bring, both personally and professionally.


Located in Kelowna, BC in beautiful British Columbia, the Schell Learning Centre is a dream fulfilled for the founders of Schell Dental Ceramics (Jonathan and Jamie Schell). Its core purpose is to provide a learning ‘hub’, which focuses on enhancing the overall practice of dentistry and oral health.

The centre has initiated a diverse range of knowledge-based workshops, training programs and information opportunities. The outcomes are intended to enhance dentists and their team’s capabilities and skill-sets with relevant and high-value content, subject matter experts and working demonstrations of best in breed treatments and treatment options.

The ultimate aspiration is to elevate the standards of dentistry, oral health and patient’s overall well-being.