Dalstra M, Melsen B.
From alginate impressions to digital virtual models: accuracy and reproducibility.
Journal of orthodontics. 2009;36(1):36-41; discussion 14.
To compare the accuracy and reproducibility of measurements performed on digital virtual models with those taken on plaster casts from models poured immediately after the impression was taken, the ‘gold standard’, and from plaster models poured following a 3-5 day shipping procedure of the alginate impression.
Direct comparison of two measuring techniques.
The study was conducted at the Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Aarhus, Denmark in 2006/2007.
Twelve randomly selected orthodontic graduate students with informed consent.
Three sets of alginate impressions were taken from the participants within 1 hour. Plaster models were poured immediately from two of the sets, while the third set was kept in transit in the mail for 3-5 days. Upon return a plaster model was poured as well. Finally digital models were made from the plaster models. A number of measurements were performed on the plaster casts with a digital calliper and on the corresponding digital models using the virtual measuring tool of the accompanying software. Afterwards these measurements were compared statistically.
No statistical differences were found between the three sets of plaster models. The intra- and inter-observer variability are smaller for the measurements performed on the digital models.
Sending alginate impressions by mail does not affect the quality and accuracy of plaster casts poured from them afterwards. Virtual measurements performed on digital models display less variability than the corresponding measurements performed with a calliper on the actual models.