3D Printing in Dentistry

R. Kirk Huntsman 3D printing

Using additive processes, 3D printing allows for the creation of virtually any object in the modern world. In the dental industry, this has given dental professionals the opportunity to offer patients innovative designs that may improve several aspects of treatment.

Through the combination of oral scanning, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and 3D printing, dental labs can create extremely accurate representations of crowns, bridges, and even orthodontic supplies in large numbers. The speed at which these products are created is greatly increased through this strategy as well.

3D printers have the ability to use any number of materials when modeling objects; another technological aspect beneficial for those in the dental technology field. For implants, titanium can be utilized to fit the proportions of any patient’s needs. This the most frequently used metal in dentistry, and medicine in general, due to its strength-to-weight ratio and biocompatibility. However, in regards to dentures, bridges, and caps, titanium’s biocompatibility is less important due to the fact that these products do not come in contact with the tooth’s soft tissue.

Surgically tools constructed through 3D printing are tested vigorously in order to meet medical-grade standards for treatment and surgery. Because of the need to constantly sterilize these products, stainless steel if the most commonly chosen material in the designing phase. The fact that these printers have the ability to create tools can also bring about improved functionality, or even new instruments that have yet to be developed.

 
Overall, the introduction of 3D printing in the dental industry has provided innovations that may replace traditional processes of molding and creating dental impressions, as well as potentially changing the way professionals approach certain procedures. The higher level of production that 3D printing brings forth also makes the method much more affordable. As methods progress, dental professionals will test different materials that can be harnessed by 3D printers to enhance their products used, and possibly discover more effective tools and strategies along the way.