3-D technology may hasten denture sizing for residents

A new device that uses holography to scan the insides of patients’ mouths decreases the time needed to measure for dentures from days down to mere minutes.

The system, HoloDent, uses a three-dimensional holography scanner that captures the exact measurements of a patient’s mouth and reconstructs it in 3-D to size for dentures, said Yaakov Nahmias, Ph.D., a professor at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. The structure inserted into the patient’s mouth looks like a spoon, and takes about 10 seconds to scan. 

“This can be very appealing for nursing homes because they don’t have to get a nurse to take the resident to the dental clinic four or five times to get sized,” Nahmias said. “This process can be done in the facility, and the dentures can be delivered to them.”

The idea of HoloDent came about in The BioDesign: Medical Innovation program, a joint effort of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center that Nahmias directs. The program helps top engineering and business students create medical innovations.

Originally, the students thought of using a camera to take pictures of different angles of the jaw, and stitching them together to construct a replica of the patient’s mouth. However, when the next round of students tried to move forward, they realized the cameras did not provide the high resolution that a 3-D camera could.

In addition to reducing dentist trips, HoloDent also improves the accessibility and accuracy of denture fitting for the aging population, and does so in a much quicker time frame, Nahmias said. The technology, created in Israel, addresses a potential market of $500 million in the U.S., he added. 

Nahmias sees digital technology growing in dentistry. 

“When you think about the rising cost of healthcare, it becomes essential that this type of technology will come into the market,” he said.