3D Printing Integrating a New Dimension to Dentures

3D printing has been labeled as a disruptive technology in the manufacturing industry and has affected almost every present industry. Being used in aerospace, defense, design, and art, 3D printing also presents a great interest in dentistry. The advances in 3D modeling and imaging have become a cone beam along with the long history of use of CAD technologies. It is rapidly growing and has become a natural progression for those companies who want to tackle the innovation with an open mind. In dentistry, 3D printing provides production of physical models for prosthodontics, orthodontics, manufacture of dental, and fabrication of framework required for implant and dental restorations.

The Creation Method

A basic way to create 3D printed denture is to first capture the data along with the patient’s anatomy. Then, using the scanned data, the design of the denture is build using the CAD (computer-aided design) software. 3D models are prepared using these models and are printed and post-processed according to the relevant requirements.

To manufacture conventional dentures, dentists first make prototype models of gypsum molds of the oral cavity and then metal is poured into the models. Because this method requires manual work, it is difficult to create precise dentures. Consequently, only skilled technicians can produce accurate dentures under these procedures.

In contrast, the new 3D printed dentures can automatically create frames based on the scanned data with a 3D printer. The use of laser in the creation of dentures ensures that the denture fits perfectly the way wearer needs it as it uses pinpoint accuracy. The traditional methods do not have this type of accuracy.

While traditional methodologies require two weeks to finish a frame, 3D printed dentures can be completed within several days. The measurement of the stone taken during the typical methods takes about 20 minutes, while the 3D scan only takes one minute.

A traditional denture can cost thousands of dollars but the prices will drop drastically if this new method is deployed. Researchers say that, by using this new method, dentists will be able to make high-quality dentures at less than half the cost of conventional techniques.

The Progress

The first generation of 3D printers used FDM (fused deposition modeling) technology in which many types of materials can be printed, but the resolution was not good enough for the dental uses. Latest technologies like SLA (Laser stereolithographic apparatus), DLP (Digital light projection SLA), and LED (Light Emitting Diode SLA) printers have overcome this obstacle and can provide highly accurate prints.

The advent of technology has assisting in producing biocompatible resin along with the better resolution of 3D models has helped healthcare providers to print full-arch models. The new resins are also being developed that will assist dentist to print dentures in pink and white teeth and that too in shades. 3D printing of dentures provides the accuracy and resolution which are absolutely necessary in order to capture proper denture form. Furthermore, it also provides the ability to reproduce a detailed structure with consistency and easy variations.

Biting Back at the Infection

Dentures produced by additive manufacturing are capable of treating fungal infections that develop in the mouth of dental wearers. Citizens with traditional dentures have to remove their dentures before treatments such as mouthwashes, antiseptic, baking soda, microwave disinfection. However, these printed dentures can administer treatment while being worn as these are filled with microscopic capsules that can release anti-fungal medication periodically.

The Two Sides of a Coin

3D printing is going to stay in the industry and is going to be helpful to different industries in some way. Regardless of technological advancement, it is the responsibility of the health care providers to stay adequately informed of such advances. Not to mention that various studies and professionals suggest that these advances are just a supplement and cannot replace the reliable traditional techniques. However, as dentistry is important and can benefit greatly from such technology. 3D printed dentures are definitely going to become more popular than the classic molded variety.

3D Software improvements have reduced the learning curve and the number of steps in reaching the final stage of the product. Healthcare providers are finding the best ways to get from A to point Z, which is important for the adoption of the 3D printer into the clinical practice. 3D printing in dentistry has taken it by storm and soon offices will be printing mouth guards and dentures along with benefits of faster turn around, lower costs and overall full control of the finished product.

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