How 3D printing is changing the face of our smiles and helping Dentists too

The future of denture design: 3D printing. Image by Sergi Lopez Roig (via Shutterstock).

Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in the last decade.  The present-day fad is one that has ran and ran longer than Coronation Street. That of the quest for whiter teeth, as evidenced by numerous clinics offering teeth whitening services. The next innovation could be a revolutionary one for cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics alike: 3D printing.

Over a similar length of time to that of the rise in teeth whitening services, 3D printing has shifted from being an expensive hobbyist’s toy to a most useful part of any workshop.  Its versatility allows for 3D printed artwork, cases, and - as we have found on this site - molars, incisors and wisdom teeth.

In orthodontics, our patient has their teeth scanned through an X-ray and an impression of their mouth.  With 3D printing, the X-ray image is digitised and forms the part of a CAD/CAM design.  Using a software package like Autocad, the CAD image is sent to the 3D printer.  Cue our 3D printed smile.

3D printing techniques are used to remedy existing smiles.  Parts of our set of teeth are used to create crowns, bridges, and stone models.  By fabricating items on a layer-by-layer basis, 3D printing allows for a more exacting and natural-looking smile.  The stone cast could become a thing of the past.

One company leading the charge towards 3D printed smiles is Stratasys.  They offer three 3D printing systems designed for dental labs of all shapes and sizes.  The Objet30 Dental Prime is their entry level machine, ideal for smaller labs.  Its larger brother, the Objet30 OrthoDesk has accurate stone modelling and digitally stores all models.  The top-of-the-range model is the Objet Eden260VS Dental Advantage.  It comes with delivery trays, surgical guides, and veneer or dental try-ins.

With the technology soon to be accepted in mainstream practices, 3D teeth with antimicrobial properties are now being explored.  We think 3D printing may become the norm in 2020.

References:

  • Raconteur: The Latest Trends in Cosmetic Dentistry, Nicola Kramer (15 September 2016).

 

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