Three-dimensional printing technology has been on the world’s radar for a while, and it has finally made its way into the field of dentistry. The ways in which it will impact dentistry offer not only innovation but happiness and convenience to both dentists and their patients.
For some time now, dentists have been using computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing–CAD/CAM–technology to create crowns and bridges. Although only about 10 percent of dental practices are currently using these technologies, the numbers are on the rise.
In order to build a crown using CAD/CAM equipment, a three-dimensional scan is taken of the patient’s mouth. Then the dentist will send the “virtual” restoration that is carved from a ceramic block. When this is finished, the restoration is then bonded to the patient’s tooth. Although these crowns are created using a subtractive method, they aren’t technically printed 3D. However, three-dimensional technology does plan a role in these same-day crowns. Patients are saved the need for temporary crowns as well as a second appointment.
Though same-day crowns have become somewhat standard, the next frontier of 3D printing can be traced to a few select cases:
Kimberley, South Africa, recently made history with the use of three-dimensional printing technology to create two titanium mandible implants for two patients, respectively. (Read more here.) Designed to help patients who have suffered losing parts of their jaw or mouth from cancer, this is considered groundbreaking in terms of dental technology.
The mandible implants will significantly impact the use of implants to provide a solution to missing or broken teeth. A reconstructed jaw will provide a better material for actually placing the implants. Implants already enjoy a very high success rate, but the mandible implants could eventually raise the success rate to a cool 100 percent.
And speaking of dental implants, they can now be created via a three-dimensional scan of the patient’s mouth. The scan is then relayed to a 3D printer; the printer melts a powder that is either metal, polymer, or silicone, and applies layer upon layer of these materials to make an implant that fits perfectly in the scanned area. A crown is then created through the use of a milling machine.
Six-Second Tooth Brushing
Toothbrushes haven’t changed a whole lot in many years, but a new product called Blizzident (Read more here.) may revolutionize teeth brushing. This 3D-printed toothbrush cleans all the teeth in your mouth in just six second. Blizzident looks like a mouth guard or bite guard that is lined with hundreds of bristles. The wearer puts it into his or her mouth, biting and chewing for six seconds–and voila! Clean teeth.
It’s made by taking a three-dimensional impression of the buyer’s teeth. The 3D file is whisked off to the Blizzident company, and a unique toothbrush will be created based on the impression. It will be mailed to the customer and should last for about a year.
Uveneer is the invention of cosmetic dentist, Dr. Sigal Jacobson. Though only being launched since February of 2014, Dr. Jacobson’s patented design is already being touted as “groundbreaking” and “essential” by dentists worldwide. A native of Australia, Dr. Jacobson also runs her own practice Jacobson Dental Group of Melbourne. To learn more about what Uveneer can do for you and your patients, visit our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages!