Statement of problem Complex digital workflows have been developed to create virtual dental patients. Direct and indirect digital methods are available for transferring analog patient information to virtual articulators. The direct method consists solely of digital workflows. The indirect method combines analog steps and digital procedures, representing an intermediate solution between the analog and direct digital approach. Studies that have investigated the overall accuracy of the virtual working space are sparse.
Purpose The purpose of this clinical study was to investigate the accuracy of the virtual dental space using the indirect digital workflow.
Material and methods Mounted gypsum casts of 18 patients were used for indirect scanning. The maxillary casts were mounted in their skull-related position with a kinematic facebow. The mandibular casts were mounted in centric relation to the maxillary casts. The obtained digitized casts were transferred to a virtual articulator. An occlusal analysis was performed both in the analog and virtual environments, and the coordinates of matching analog and virtual contact points were measured. The trueness and precision of the indirect transferring procedure were assessed.
Results A total of 194 analog points was considered in the reference. Ninety-three percent of all analog points matched a virtual correspondent, and 96% of the analog first contacts between the casts were also present as first contacts in the virtual space. The trueness of the data transfer, corresponding to the spatial distance between the matching analog and virtual points, was 0.55 ±0.31 mm. The maximum recorded deviation was 1.02 mm.
Conclusions The correspondence between the number and position of analog and virtual contacts was high. The mean absolute deviation of the matching point-pairs was better than that reported for the direct digital method. Under the conditions described, the virtual dental space created with the indirect digital method can be reliably used for virtual occlusal analysis in clinical practice.