Before starting orthodontic treatment, your Orthodontist will make a model of your teeth. The first step is to make molds of your teeth, called Impressions. This can be done in a number of ways. The tried and true method involves biting into a metal dental tray filled with a rubber-type material called Alginate, which quickly hardens to produce an accurate mold of your teeth. The Orthodontist or dental lab uses this mold to make a plaster model of your upper and lower teeth so see how your bite functions.
Newer technologies create 3-D digital models with an intra-oral scanner, which is about the size of an electric toothbrush. In about 15 minutes, a total 3-D scan can easily be produced and used to analyze your teeth and bite. Either way, your Orthodontist uses Impressions to visualize your teeth and bite, and help plan your treatment.