How 3D Printing is Changing the Dental Industry

How 3D Printing is Changing the Dental Industry

The dental industry is seeing major transformations in the way it provides services and procedures to their patients. While not all dentists take the time to invest in the latest technologies, the ones that do, provide better benefits to their patients than the ones that don’t undertake technological changes.

Why is this so?

Most dental technologies are not a one-day creation to a fix. After all, creating 3D technology whether for 3D printing or 3D scanning, such as the well-known 3D CONE BEAM, are pieces of equipment that require vast amount of knowledge in mathematics, physics and engineering. However, as history has taught us, with time, there are solutions for all aspects of life.

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The dental industry is no different in this respect!

In a previous article we wrote on “How 3D Printing is Set to Transform Dentistry in the Near Future.” We highlighted some of the finer points and benefits of 3D printing and its potential for the dental industry. We also made points to its benefits of:

  • Modeling and Customization
  • Convenient for the Patient
  • Cost Effective and
  • Helps Bring Back Manufacturing

Feel free to follow our link above to learn more about these benefits.

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3D Printing Trends in the Dental Industry

As of today, one of the top leading manufacturers in the 3D printing industry, still remains to be EnvisionTec, which continues to lead the world in digital dentistry. According to Dr. Cosmo Haralambidis, RI:

“3D printing is putting more tools into the orthodontists’ hands. … It changes the practice dramatically because you have a faster turnover time and you have more freedom of movement versus working with an intermediary.”

3D printing is already in wide use and implemented every day to produce materials and parts. Some of these are digital dentures, models with removable dies, surgical guides, gingival mask, high speed thermoform models, customized impression trays, bite splints, crown and bridge wax-ups, partial denture frameworks, indirect bonding trays and occlusal guards just to name a few.

According to Dr. Jeff Backus of Hoover, AL. They used to scan and print their own models for several years during their practice and the lab time it required to make their own IDB trays was consuming in many ways and drained resources the staff could have used elsewhere. Today, they are able to 3D print indirect bonding trays with ease and all that is needed is to place the brackets in them the day of the initial bonding.

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The Future of 3D Printing in Dental Offices

Just merely having a 3D printer to provide adequate same day printing of tools and trays may not be enough for large scale dental offices. However, as always, with innovations, come economies of scales. The dental industry is no different in this respect.

It is quite reasonable to surmise that other manufacturers are also looking ahead of the competition and ahead of the curve, to provide 3D dental printing that meets and satisfies the needs of economies of scales. Luckily for the patient, this tends to reduce the cost of materials and the overall cost of dental procedures. Whether this solution is a one-day remedy still remains to be seen in most dental practices. The good news is that most dentists have a modest practice which encompass 1 to 3 branches to their dental practice. This rarely meets the requirements to be considered a practice with the need for economies of scale.

3D Printing and Restorative Dentistry

3D printing is already entrenched in the services of restorative dentistry by providing quick solutions to crown resin and soft tissue resin commonly used in restorative dentistry. Another leader in this corner of the dental industry is FormLabs who’s main focus is on dental laboratories, dental practices and orthodontics.

FormLabs also provides the software and hardware technology to switch seamlessly between a library of dental resin with a tried and proven cartridge system that creates little to no hassle during the transition process.

What does this mean for the patient?

Better care, faster speeds, better efficiency in production and more comfortable units developed with ease via a 3D printers.