Silicone based impression-taking of prepared teeth followed by plaster casting is well-established but potentially less
reliable, error-prone and inefficient, particularly in combination with emerging techniques like computer aided design
and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) of dental prosthesis. Intra-oral optical scanners for digital impression-taking have been
introduced but until now some drawbacks still exist. Because optical waves can hardly penetrate liquids or soft-tissues, sub-gingival preparations still need to be uncovered invasively prior to scanning. High frequency ultrasound (HFUS) based micro-scanning has been recently investigated as an alternative to optical intra-oral scanning. Ultrasound is less sensitive against oral fluids and in principal able to penetrate gingiva without invasively exposing of sub-gingival preparations. Nevertheless, spatial resolution as well as digitization accuracy of an ultrasound based micro-scanning system remains a critical parameter because the ultrasound wavelength in water-like media such as gingiva is typically smaller than that of optical waves. In this contribution, the in-vitro accuracy of ultrasound based micro-scanning for tooth geometry reconstruction is being investigated and compared to its extra-oral optical counterpart. In order to increase the spatial resolution of the system, 2nd harmonic frequencies from a mechanically driven focused single element transducer were separated and corresponding 3D surface models were calculated for both fundamentals and 2nd harmonics. Measurements on phantoms, model teeth and human teeth were carried out for evaluation of spatial resolution and surface detection accuracy. Comparison of optical and ultrasound digital impression taking indicate that, in terms of accuracy, ultrasound based tooth digitization can be an alternative for optical impression-taking.