Intraoral scanning has revolutionized workflows in a dental practice. It used to be that any restoration (crown, bridge, denture, etc.) that couldn't be made directly inside the patient's mouth (pretty much anything that wasn't a filling) required taking messy, goopy impressions, which were then used to make a plaster/stone model that could be used to make the restoration. This was time consuming, uncomfortable for the patient, and inaccurate.
With intraoral scanning, we can capture the same information digitally, skipping several steps. Once the image of the mouth is recorded, special software called Computer Aided Design (CAD) software can be used to design the desired restoration on a computer.
This software uses information about what the patient's other teeth look like, as well as a general "knowledge" of what teeth are supposed to look like, to automate about 80% of the design work for the dentist. In a fully digital workflow, these designs can then be directly manufactured using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software and machines that mill the restoration out of a solid block of material, or 3D printers. See more about this in the CEREC section.