How does a dental diagnostic wax-up compare to digital smile design?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Jaclyn Toh

"Dentist with an interest in comprehensive dentistry."

A diagnostic wax-up forms part of the Digital Smile Design (DSD) process.

As the name suggests, Digital Smile Design begins with sketching out virtual two-dimensional improvements to the patient's smile based on photographs and videos. This is a more efficient way of trialing different tooth lengths and shapes since changes can be quickly made.

Also because the photos integrate other parts of the face such as the lips and eyes, it is easier to figure out what changes are needed to harmonize the smile with the face.

In the days before DSD, the dentist's only tool for figuring out how to map out an improved smile would be the diagnostic waxup. This has several shortcomings:

1) Difficulty determining the relationship of the lips and the face to the teeth.

2) Difficulty in accurately determining the scale (size) of proposed changes.

3) Time-consuming and labour-intensive, since several wax-ups would be required if multiple designs were being considered.

After the DSD is completed, the 2-dimensional design has to be converted to a diagnostic wax-up which is a 3-dimensional representation that can be transferred to the patient's mouth. This allows verification of the initial design.

At this stage (mockup or prototype), changes to the design can still be made. Once the prototype has been finalized, this will form the blueprint for all future treatment (crown lengthening, orthodontics, veneers, etc) being considered.

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