David Rodriguez had a significant underbite, which made chewing difficult.

Rodriguez, 21, of Norwalk is a senior at the University of Connecticut and said he lacked self-confidence because of the problem. He had planned to have plastic surgery “for a while, knowing throughout childhood and into my teens” that he wanted his jaw straightened.

“I kind of had to wait until I was older in order to have a lasting effect,” Rodriguez said.

Correcting an underbite is just one of the many procedures performed by Dr. Derek Steinbacher, director of cleft and craniofacial surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, who has been using a three-dimensional camera to help him do his work more precisely. He specializes in repairing cleft lips and palates.

The Vectra XT 3D camera, manufactured by Canfield Scientific of Parsippany, New Jersey, offers a more precise way to view and measure the site where surgery will be performed.

“Before this, basically we have a lot of separate registrations or records that are not really integrated,” Steinbacher said. Those would include dental models, X-rays and two-dimensional photos.

“These are all in isolation, then we have to mentally figure out how to integrate them together,” he said.

With the 3D technology, which can include 3D scans as well as photographs, “the photograph is more interactive. It’s an objective piece of data now [so] that we can measure volumes and distances,” said Steinbacher, demonstrating the Vectra camera in the Yale Plastic Surgery office at 800 Howard Ave.