A Guide to Creating 3D Digital
Dental Wax-ups In-Office

A more cost-efficient and faster workflow than creating stone models and milling from wax.

By: Dr. Diogo Alves

The importance of creating a digital dental wax-up before carrying out the final restorations, particularly in esthetic cases, is not news to anyone. It helps to better understand the necessary procedures needed to be performed prior to the final restoration and it eliminates doubts and the possibilities of unanticipated surprises. 

Think of a patient with a high smile line. In such a case you plan to perform gingival contouring and Porcelain Veneers. Along with your clinical analysis, a 3D wax-up will provide you with better guidance on how to execute the proposed treatment.

There is usually a solid desire to quickly restore function and aesthetics from the patient’s perspective, especially if the patient came with one picture in mind of how they want to look. For these reasons, the dentist must understand the clinical components of a treatment plan and the patient’s expectations of the future outcome to deliver balanced, durable, and esthetically-pleasing conservative restorations.

In this article, I will walk you through how you can create a digital wax-up in-house using SmileFy’s software. With it, you can design a patient’s new smile while focusing on the dental characteristics and unique facial structures to achieve an esthetically harmonic smile.

What you will need to start your 3D wax-up
Gathering patient digital files
  1. The Facial Photo

To begin your 3D wax-up, first take a frontal facial image of your patient. It can be done with your own DSLR camera or your iPhone or iPad.

Pro Tips

  • Position your patient standing up straight, with no hats or glasses, and hair tucked behind the ears. In a room with great lighting, frame the patient’s face inside the screen of your device eliminating shoulders.
  • To prevent distortions on the smile curve of the patient’s current conditions, level the lens of the camera to the eyes of your patient and make sure that your iPhone is straight. Looking at the lens of the camera, ask your patient to give a big wide smile, with the mouth slightly open.

          2. The Intraoral Scan

 To create a digital wax-up, scan the entire upper arch before prepping and include it as a study or pre-op scan.


  • Make sure to scan upper and lower + bite registration so the two files can occlude together in smilefy. 
  • Make sure to control the moisture such as saliva as you scan and remove all the excess surrounding the scan, such as tongue, lips, and cheek.
Intraoral Scacn - Upper
Intraoral Scan - Lower
How does the scan aid your 3D digital wax-up?
  • It will be much easier to recreate the original tooth’s shape and contour, as well as to identify where to add material or prepare your teeth for future restorations
  • In cases of replacement of a feasible crown with recurrent decay, a pre-op scan will facilitate the occlusal anatomy and occlusion placement position

Upload the patient’s files into your preferred cloud storage such as Drop Box, iCloud, or Google Drive and import them into the Patient Digitalization in SmileFy.

Starting your 3D Digital Wax-up
Defining the Dental Arch Curve

A dental arch assessment becomes essential to detect orthodontic problems or to ensure normal occlusion and teeth position. Additionally, interocclusion spacing and premature contacts also need to be evaluated as it helps you plan and prevent issues with future restorations.

Pro Tip

  • The position of the occlusion line will determine where the incisal edge of the future 3D design will be placed.
  •  As you position the target, a continuous line forms at the tip of the posterior buccal cusp and anterior incisal edge surrounding the entire arch.
Smile Frame 3D

The Smile Frame 3D will predefine the future 3D teeth design position. It lets you pre-set the entire 3D teeth over the patient’s pre-op IO scan. 

  • Adjust midline 
  • Teeth proportions and position

The workflow in Smilefy was created so dentists and smile designers can intuitively create in-office mockups. Once the number of 3D teeth is selected according to the planning in the teeth chart, the width of each tooth can easily be adjusted making it simpler to develop the digital wax-up.

Teeth Shape Selection and Customization

In SmileFy you will find a variety of Natural Teeth Templates that can be replicated into temporaries or final restorations.

  • Since you are designing over the photo, the software allows you to conduct a facially guided wax-up while trying on different teeth shapes, forms
  • The 3D wax-up can be viewed and edited from different angles, so you know the proportions and position of every tooth in the arch
  • The designs can also be measured in its height

Finalizing your 3D wax-up

The final step is to finalize the design with the Mesh Editor tools. Here you are able to fully adjust the cervical margins, emergency profile, proximal contacts, and more if needed. 

Exporting the 3D wax-up

Every 3D design created in SmileFy can be exported as an.STL file so the workflow can continue in any other CAD/CAM software depending on the case’s complexity or 3D printer.

Once printed, create a silicone index to perform a smile trial and ensure the esthetics meet your patient’s expectations.

Tutorials & Other resources

To create your own 3D digital wax-up watch out tutorials to get started. Start with this one below.

For all 3D tutorials, click here. For 3D Printing Tips and Tutorials, click here.

Expedite your learning curve, enroll in our upcoming Smile Designer Certification course. Online and In-person programs available. Learn more by clicking here.

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