The method provides a means for a dentist to record the shape in situ of teeth prepared for repair. During a search mode, a high resolution grey scale image is presented on a monitor. The scan head is positioned over the prepared cavity, using this visual feedback. A trigger initiates actual 3D data acquisition, which is accomplished in a fraction of a second using an active triangulation principle. The result is stored in congruent memory banks in the form of a 3D profile and a pseudoplastic grey scale image representing the back-scattered contrast. The pseudoplastic contrast image is displayed instantaneously on the monitor. The point to point relationship between the pseudoplastic grey scale image and the 3D profile allows use of the grey scale display as a drawing plane for operator data verification and editing. The contour lines defining the desired restorative implant appear as an overlay to the grey scale image, while the actual positional values of points on the contour lines are stored in and retrieved from the 3D profile. The contrast-derived pseudoplastic image not only provides higher intelligibility for the operator; but data processing algorithms can also make use for each image point of both sets of data, that is the 3D profile and the contrast image.