Nowadays, a 3D printer can produce almost anything! From jewelry to car parts to architectural scale models, the possibilities are practically endless, and the technology has become a staple in many dentist’s offices — including Ponderosa Dental in Missoula. Learn how we use 3D printing technology at Ponderosa to improve the level of care you receive.
What Is a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer reads a digital file and turns it into a three-dimensional object by layering thin layers of material on top of one another.
As 3Dprinting.com explains, it’s an additive process. “In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced cross-section of the object.”
You can create unique, intricate objects faster with 3D printing than you can with traditional manufacturing methods.
How Are 3D Printers Used in Dentistry?
So, how do dentists use 3D printers to improve patient care? 3D printers help dentists plan and create patient’s treatments. Items that can be 3D printed include patient models, surgical guides, night guards, crowns, and more.
“3D printers are like Swiss-army knives—no other tool can produce such a wide variety of dental products with consistently high quality,” notes FormLabs.
In all its applications, a 3D printer enables a more efficient workflow for dentists and their teammates. In turn, patients receive faster, more precise care!
A Few Benefits of 3D Printing in Dentistry
- Less mess and quicker solutions: There’s no need to take physical impressions of your mouth and wait for a plaster mold to harden so your aligner, crown, or another custom device can be made. Instead, a “3D digital impression can be taken with an intra-oral scanner, a camera that can create a 3D rendering of the teeth and gums in a digital file,” explains Medical Technology. Then your “device can be printed right then and there,” and you don’t have to leave the dentist’s chair
- Customized products for your mouth: Everyone’s oral anatomy is unique, and dental products must be customized to each patient. 3D printers help eliminate production errors and increase the speed and accuracy of dental solutions.
- Increased precision for implants: With a surgical guide produced by a 3D printer, “the accuracy of implant placement during surgery is all but guaranteed, the risk of surgical complications fall, and clinical results are improved overall,” shares FormLabs.
- Clear aligners! Need we say more!? Clear aligners are used to fix crooked or misaligned teeth, and aligners probably wouldn’t exist without 3D printing technology.
“In the end, 3D printers in the office are a sign that the clinician is willing to invest in their practice and their patients by using the best tools possible,” says Digital Smile Design director George Cabanas.
The Future of 3D Printing in Dentistry
It won’t be long before 3D printers can be used to do more than create implants, aligners, surgical guides, and the like. Researchers at KU Leuven University are going a step further and looking for ways to use 3D printing to restore a tooth’s root. Their experiments are still underway, but if successful, they could help patients regrow damaged teeth.
3D printing technology will only get better and better, and as it does, you can count on Ponderosa Dental to bring every advancement to Missoula, MT.