In dentistry, the dentist is focused on managing the 2 primary causes of dental deterioration: bacteria & force. Bacteria can cause cavities, abscesses, infections, and periodontal disease. The force causes worn teeth, broken teeth, teeth that drift and move, gums to recede, and stress on the periodontal health allowing gum disease to progress even faster. Force can be considered the gasoline on the fire in the presence of an active infection.
As the dentist creates solutions to improve and maintain the dental health of an individual, the management of forces is a critical component that in the past had limitations in our ability to evaluate and measure. For years, dental occlusion had been largely a matter of guesswork for dentists.
Articulation paper, waxes, pressure indicator paste, etc. were all dentists had to assess and balance the forces of occlusion. Most of these methods are not sensitive enough to detect simultaneous contact, and none measure both biting time and force. T-scan puts technology into action and utilizes the power of computers to measure not only which teeth contact and when, but also the relative amounts of focus that each tooth is bearing.
The T-scan is essentially a very thin plastic strip (like a piece of paper) that has pressure sensors embedded into it. This is held by a handle that sends the data to a computer that reads and converts this data to a visual form that is easily interpreted by Dr. Finlay & his team. In this way, they can quickly identify problem areas that may require adjustment or equilibration.
The T-scan has become increasingly important with modern dentistry because of 2 important issues. First, many of the materials that are used to repair or replace teeth are made of glass (porcelain). Although porcelain is very strong and durable, if the patient had experienced deterioration of their natural teeth from force, they potentially could experience the same fracture and deterioration of their new ceramic glass restorations. The T-scan provides the ability to ensure that these destructive forces are being managed in the best way possible.
The second reason that the T-scan has become an increasingly important diagnostic tool is the advent of dental implants. Dental implants, due to the way they fuse with the bone, respond differently to occlusal forces than natural teeth do that are anchored in the bone with a very thin membrane that allows for movement. Because of this, it becomes critical to the long-term prognosis of implant restorations to balance the distribution of forces appropriately.