3-D printing is an exciting and quickly evolving tool. There are numerous innovative applications for 3-D digital technology in dentistry. As your family dentist, we understand the importance of implementing new technologies as they arise.
Currently, most dental health professionals utilize both digital and traditional treatment methods, depending on the individual circumstances of each patient. Often, digital technology is used in tandem with a traditional methodology to enhance one aspect of the treatment process, primarily to improve speed and precision when constructing dental prosthetics and appliances.
For example, digital technology is implemented in dental procedures such as all-on-four dental implants, in the following ways:
Construction of prosthetic teeth
Prosthetic teeth have to be fabricated with absolute precision, both to ensure a perfect fit and to ensure that they are aesthetically pleasing. Extreme accuracy is achieved using resin-based printing, stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP) printers.
Computer-assisted virtual placement planning
This is done so that the titanium screws upon which the all-on-four replacement teeth sit are ideally sited and angled in the patient’s jawbone to ensure optimal efficacy.
Digitally-constructed oral surgical guides to ensure precise incisions
Oral surgery obviously requires a high degree of precision. Surgical guides can improve the accuracy of implant placement during surgery. Dr. Phillips personally makes our 3-D printed surgical guides, which helps the achieve absolute precision by using an apparatus that is designed to fit in a patient’s mouth much like a mouth guard or a transparent aligner. This device has openings in the precise location or locations where the incisions should be made, and this preparatory planning enhances the success of the procedure and helps reduce the risk of surgical complications.
Our surgical guides are created by performing an intra-oral scan of the patient’s mouth, then immediately printing a resin model, which is cured or hardened quickly by a laser.
Another application of digital technology is the construction of Digital Dentures
This innovation is both efficient and more cost-effective than traditional denture manufacturing. This method involves fewer patient visits and steps in the process, simplifying the procedure significantly.
Clear aligners are highly popular. They are less invasive and more comfortable than traditional braces, so when circumstances allow, most patients prefer transparent aligners. Orthodontists increasingly rely on digital 3-D technology to plan the progressive construction of the transparent aligners that facilitate the incremental shifting of the teeth until the desired result is achieved.
Another benefit of 3D technology is that the patient is able to clearly see what will occur during treatment, and see specific outcomes in concrete visuals. This is not only reassuring but it has been shown to increase patient co-operation and follow-through, which contributes to better outcomes.
Dr. Keith Phillips has been named as one of the “Top Doctors” in Tacoma every year since 2012. He enjoys working with technology, from motorcycles to espresso machines, and sees the revolutionary impact 3-D technology has been and will continue to facilitate in the field of dentistry.
Distinctive Dentistry serves the greater Tacoma area and practices next-level sanitation procedures to ensure your health and comfort. You will find plenty of stress-free parking at our convenient location just off the freeway in Fife, WA.