Dr Debs Thomas BDS (Dental Surgeon) explains how the 3Shape TRIOS® intraoral scanner is transforming her business of producing dentally-fitted mouthguards for children of all ages.

I have worked for over 25 years limiting my practice to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in both the hospital service and general dental practice and have witnessed first-hand some of the terrible facial injuries resulting from sporting accidents.

I had been making dentally-fitted mouthguards for friends and family for years to protect them from such risks, but I never saw it as a business. However, a few years ago after suffering a dislocated shoulder that continued to cause me significant problems performing oral surgery, I had to find something else I could do well within my capabilities. With friends recommending me to friends I found I had so many people coming to me for impressions for mouthguards I realised I had a business opportunity on my hands. That’s when Top-Guards was born! 

Protecting children

I’m passionate about getting properly-fitted mouthguards to any children who play sports. Many parents don’t know about dentally-fitted mouthguards and if they do they’re getting them from their dentist, which can be an expensive option. The idea of Top-Guards was to bring affordable mouthguards to as many children as possible by working with them in local schools and sports clubs. Two years ago, I was working with just two schools, now I’m working with 13 schools – that’s some progress.

Taking traditional impressions, especially of young children, is never an easy task. It’s very different treating patients in a comfortable surgery to having some 50 screaming children running around you as you work! I had to ensure the impressions, up to 150 at a time, were transported safely to and from the laboratory and we had the added problems of labelling and storing them. On top of that most kids (and adults) really don’t like impressions and having that ‘awful gooey stuff’ in their mouths.

A digital transformation

However, all of this has been transformed thanks to the TRIOS intraoral scanner. Within the first week of using the TRIOS I was able to scan 87 children in just two morning sessions – 37 in the first and 50 in the second. It was lovely to watch the reaction of the children who sat around looking at the screen absolutely transfixed by the images they could see of their mouths. For me digital dentistry is so exciting and what’s unique is the scanner is not sitting in a surgery or lab to be used a few times a day; we are able to scan up to 50 children in just one morning on the road.

We produce mouthguards mainly for children involved in rugby, hockey, lacrosse and martial arts and they come in a variety of colour combinations which they can choose beforehand. The scans are then sent to my local dental laboratory- Chris Howe Ceramics in Sunbury,  where they are milled and finished by hand by skilled technicians to ensure a superior fit.

For younger children whose teeth are constantly changing, we scan the whole mouth to see if any teeth are erupting and block out space for them to grow into. For older children and adults, we also put indentations of the lower teeth in the underneath of the mouthguard for even more comfort and protection.

Support is key

I received training on using the TRIOS at my dental lab who own the scanner I currently take out on the road. I have also received brilliant support from Straumann who are always available at the end of the phone and their reps, Ray Gregory and Akos Hudak, have been an amazing help, even coming into the schools with me to ensure everything is working exactly as it should be.

With so many new patients I am already looking to purchase a second scanner of my own. As well as mouthguards I am also getting involved in anti-snoring devices using digital impressions to produce mandibular advancement splints and that’s where the TRIOS will prove to be invaluable.

It’s so exciting for me and my team to be able to bring dentally-fitted mouthguards into schools and sports clubs. It’s vitally important to try and protect children’s teeth from sporting accidents and this is such a straightforward and affordable way to do so. I’m working with such amazing technology and the kids still can’t quite believe you’re doing their scans with a special ‘magic wand’ and without that awful impression material!

To find out more about digital dentistry, contact Straumann on 01293 651230 or visit www.straumann.co.uk 


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