3D printing is an emerging technology that has ground-breaking applications in the field of dentistry.
There are 3D printers and materials manufactured specifically for dentists. 3D printers produce highly accurate orthodontic models, restorations, dentures, aligners, retainers, crowns, bridges, as well as surgical guides. The source material used in the printing process varies, depending on which treatment is implemented.
This is useful because dental treatments require dentists to produce highly customized, unique shapes to match the dental structures of each individual patient.
3-D printing provides consistently high-quality products and precision efficiency also helps reduce costs. This 3D printing technology is on track to provide at least 60 percent of dental production by 2025, particularly in the field of dental modeling.
How is 3-D printing technology used in dentistry?
- To replace or repair a damaged tooth: The dentist or prosthodontist will scan the patient’s mouth with a small digital wand known as an intraoral scanner in order to create a 3D image of the oral cavity which records the dentition—the pattern and arrangement of teeth—which is unique to each individual. Dental restorations such as crowns, dental implants, partial bridges, and dentures can be manufactured to match each individual patient’s shape and contour of the teeth and arrangement in relation to the gums. This information is stored as a digital file that enables the dentist to use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to digitally design the replacement tooth or teeth, and then print the finished product on a 3D printer.
- To Create a mouth guards, braces or “invisible” teeth straightening aligners and dental appliances: 3-D printer technology eliminates the need for the patient to endure the gooey, awkward, clay molds that harden into the models which technicians previously used to design braces or transparent aligners.
- 3-D printing technology can be used to construct surgical tools.
Additional Benefits of 3D Printing in Dentistry
- Dental appliances such as crowns and dentures are ready much faster and with precision accuracy: Manufacturing dental models is time-consuming. Digital printing enables multiple appliances to be printed at once, and since the printer produces16-micron-thick layers to form the structure, they are extremely accurate and precise.
- 3-D printers are much less expensive than dental labs. 3D printers can significantly lower overhead costs, translating to lower costs for the patient. That’s because digital printing streamlines the process and minimized the room for error and the amount of labor required, which facilitates savings.
After successfully restoring your teeth with their 3-D printer, your family dentist can even print a glass to toast your new smile!
Dr. Keith Phillips is a highly trained prosthodontist with over 25 years of experience in general family dentistry, dental implants, including “All-On-4” implants, sedation dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. He and the entire staff at Distinctive Dentistry remain on the cutting edge of treatment techniques, constantly training in order to gain expertise with developing technologies and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure our patients have cutting-edge expertise they can trust.
Our office is easy-to-access, located off the freeway in Fife, WA and we serve patients in the greater Tacoma area, including Gig Harbor, Puyallup, and Federal Way.