Making space in your practice: what to do with all those stone models Matt Hendrickson discusses a money- and space-saving alternative to stone models — going digital
n spite of the popularity of intraoral scanners that eliminate the use of alginate and plaster models, traditional impressions continue to be the standard when it comes to taking initial orthodontic records for most practices. And it’s been the standard for years — and years. All those years have added up to boxes of models (Figure 1) tucked away, wasting valuable space. In fact, there’s a minority of practices that have stopped taking impressions as part of the initial record altogether — arguing that it’s simply not worth the hassle of pouring up models only to have them gather dust in a corner. That, of course, is an extreme measure; however, there are other ways for practices to handle their backlog of stone models: digitizing existing models (Figure 2). Orthodontists have been hearing it for a decade now — “go digital.” For some, that might mean using an intraoral scanner. Creating a model as part of the initial record is highly recommended by the American Board of Orthodontics, but it doesn’t make it any less messy or time-consuming. Pouring up models, trimming, and polishing them for patient presentation is a hassle. Digital impressions captured with an intraoral scanner can eliminate those steps. With that in mind, “going digital” seems like common sense, and many orthodontic practices have started to embrace that option. However, it doesn’t undo years of stone models that practices are still obligated to maintain. It varies state by state, but once a stone model becomes part of a patient’s record, the practice must keep it for an average of 7 years after the patient reaches the age of majority. Consequently, if a doctor finishes with a patient when he/she is 13 or 14, the practice will have to maintain the model for at Matt Hendrickson has spent more than 20 years in the industry. He is currently the US&C orthodontic director for Carestream Dental. Prior to joining Carestream Dental, Hendrickson founded and served as president of Integrated Dental Solutions, and he also has held a variety of roles within dental practices.
48 Orthodontic practice
Figure 2 Volume 8 Number 3