3D printing technology has become all the rage in recent years, affecting countless industries in a multitude of ways. The dental industry, in particular, has begun using 3D printing to fix teeth, make flossing easier, and much more. Dental 3D printers require precision, and they use stereolithography and digital light processing in order to ensure that precision is met every time the technology is used. Different materials need to be used depending on what the printer is creating as well, and many have been made specifically for dental 3D printers. Having the benefit of 3D printing has brought a new level of speed and ease to age-old procedures, so here are a few of the things 3D printing has created to change the dental industry.
Crowns are used to replace the broken part of a tooth, and it can be an extremely expensive and time-consuming process. With 3D printing, creating crowns has become easier than ever, and cheaper as well. Doctors scan the broken tooth, and then the software is able to create a model of the crown. The process takes less than 30 minutes and can even be done in their office when it would take weeks prior to 3D printing taking the stage.
When doctors perform surgeries, they need to be as precise as possible. Dentistry is no exception and 3D printing in the industry has made a world of difference. Dentists are now able to 3D print guides that are designed to fit perfectly into a patient’s mouth and have become integral to many dentists day to day responsibilities. Creating surgical guides is as easy as scanning the patient’s mouth and then creating a model that is a lot like an aligner but has openings where the surgery will be done. Like crowns, creating surgical guides are quick and painless, so they’re becoming more prominent across the dental industry.
Aligners and night guards are where 3D printing is used the most in dentistry. Like surgical guides, dentists and orthodontists scan their patient’s teeth and then use software in order to generate a 3D model of their teeth. When creating aligners, they adjust the models towards what the patient’s teeth should become. Two popular methods exist for creating both of these tools. The first one involves printing a model of the patient’s teeth as they currently are and then using a vacuum to form a plastic sheet over the model, which later becomes the aligner. The second method involves using the model of the teeth to model the aligner and then printing it using the 3D printer. As with the other 2 main uses of 3D printing in dentistry, using a 3D printer speeds things up, as well as making each product more accurate and custom.