Talk to a customer service agent

Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET

News & Articles

Picture This – A New Digital Camera with 3-D Accuracy

Aug 14, 2014

By Dean George

Fewer than 25 percent of dentists use digital technology, but that may change if an innovative company that has developed a new 3-D camera can help dentists see the big picture.

3M has introduced a pen-sized camera that digitally scans 3-D images of a patient’s teeth, gums and palate at a recent trade show in Minneapolis. The company says it’s new 3M True Definition Scanner™ could do away with the gag-inducing physical molds dentists use to make impressions of teeth because the device’s 3-D pictures would instantly download to facilities that make crowns, bridges and braces.

If comments at dental trade shows are any indication, dentists across the country are chomping at the bit for an opportunity to buy one of the new cameras.

It’s amazing,” said Burnsville, Minnesota dentist Dr. Jeff Olson. “It’s all digital, so there is no cross contamination. And the image is as accurate as a fingerprint scanner. This is far superior to what we have now,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

How it Works When a dentist swipes the 3-D camera wand over a patient’s teeth, a live image displays on a computer where the dentist can view and discuss problem areas with the patient during a same-day visit.

The camera wand takes images that are extremely accurate. With the push of a button a dentist can upload a 3-D picture to a tooth-milling center that uses computer design software and 3-D printers to produce precise fitting crowns, bridges and braces in hours rather than weeks.

“This is extremely accurate. The images and crowns that result from the 3-D camera are accurate to within 50 microns or 0.05 of a millimeter,” Olson said. “Because of that, crowns fit snugly and it doesn’t take an hour to retrofit inexact molds to the patient’s mouth.”

3M previously developed its own digital dental camera in 2008, but their new camera is five times lighter and 75% thinner than their earlier model.

“In this modern age of very small cameras, wouldn’t it be better to make it smaller so we could take high-resolution images of your mouth and send that to the lab to make that crown?” asked David Frazee, general manager of 3M Digital Oral Care. 


In 2012 Dental Wire reported that a British scientific team had developed a small camera that could help identify tiny cavities and plague using qualitative light induced fluorescence technology, or QLF. The images could then be transferred wirelessly to other dentists for consultation via mobile technology.

All these technological advances are part of a $2 - 4 billion dental digital device market which is growing 15-20% a year. With its 3M True Definition™ device, 3M is making a serious play in the field by offering their digital scanner for only $15,000, which is half the cost of existing scanners.

3M says it plans to begin delivery this fall and at least one dentist at the Minneapolis trade show says he’s ready. “This is way faster than the old technology,” Olson said.  “On a scale of one to 10, I’m an 11. We’re excited.”

Source:, 3M ESPE Dental Products
Photo source:

Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC     

Top News

Get a free quote on a dental plan.

It's fast, easy and secure.


Site Navigation