June 18, 2024

Vita Nectar

Health is the main investment in life

Digital scans may be better for newborns with cleft palate

3 min read

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Clefts of the lip and/or palate and alveolar bone are the most common congenital anomalies of the head and neck and result in feeding, psychological, craniofacial and speech challenges. In infants, care may involve preoperative appliances, for which impressions of their clefts are required. Conventional impression taking techniques pose risks like ingestion and suffocation. A study at Alexandria University has assessed the reliability of digital versus conventional impressions in reproducing unilateral cleft lip and palate in newborns and found digital impressions to be as accurate but more acceptable for guardians.

The study involved seven infants aged 0–28 days diagnosed with complete unilateral cleft lip and palate. Impressions of their clefts were taken with the conventional method using an irreversible hydrocolloid impression material and with an intra-oral scanner. Stone models of the conventional impressions were scanned, creating virtual 3D models, and the intra-oral scans were saved as virtual 3D models and 3D-printed.

The virtual models from both methods were superimposed to compare the alveolar arch width and alveolar cleft defect. The maximum alveolar arch width and maximum distance between the premaxillary segments were measured on the physical models from both techniques using vernier callipers. The superimposed 3D scans of the conventional and digital impressions showed significant differences in three of the cases. However, the calliper measurements showed no significant variation between the conventional and digital impressions.

Additionally, the infants’ guardians completed a questionnaire on their acceptance of both impression techniques, and their answers revealed a distinct preference for the digital method. Two significant findings were that the guardians felt that the conventional method was more invasive and that they believed their infant had suffered during its application.

The study indicates a shift away from traditional impressions owing to associated risks and the stress it places on both patients and guardians. Digital impressions emerged as safer and preferred because they minimised risks to infants as well as eased guardians’ concerns. The study also showed that digital impressions are accurate and efficient. Digital impression taking also offers the advantage of creating reliable models for future treatment planning and provides visual aids to parents that showcase the potential improvements in their infant’s condition.

The study, titled “Diagnostic evaluation and guardian assessment of using digital impression in neonates versus the conventional techniques”, was published online on 30 August 2023 in the Alexandria Dental Journal, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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