3D printing has most certainly made a deep and resounding impact in various industries and sectors, and that’s especially true when it comes to the realm of healthcare. Dentists and oral health professionals owe it to themselves as well as their patients to learn more about dentistry 3D printing and its full scope of capabilities. Such innovations can change the face of dentistry as well as the way people, both patients and professionals, think about dentistry.
Bacteria-Killing 3D-Printed Teeth
Patients might soon no longer have to worry as much about bacteria that breaks down teeth on contact. Researchers at the University of Groningen are developing a way to print 3D teeth with antimicrobial plastic that destroys tooth-decaying bacteria. What this means for 3D printing and pediatric dentistry is that patients with these 3D teeth don’t have to worry about their pearly whites becoming discolored or decaying, which can lead to an abundance of pain and discomfort. While the researchers might be quite a ways off from perfecting their designs and releasing them to the public, the fact that the method is conceivable speaks volumes about the possibilities.
Faster Equipment Production
While technology has undoubtedly improved the accuracy with which dentists can fit their patients for braces, crowns, bridges and the like, dentistry and 3D printing have combined to speed up the rate at which dentists can print out models for equipment like mouth guards. While this approach is still in its infancy stage, it might very well soon be possible for patients to not only be fitted for something like braces, but have them created and put into their mouths within a single appointment without the need to come back for multiple sessions.
Advancements in CAD/CAM Capabilities
Rather than abandoning currently existing technology, advancements in 3D printing provide the perfect supplement to that technology as well as the chance to further the capabilities of that technology. Specifically, dental CAD software is used to better guide technicians in fitting patients with dental restoration pieces and equipment, such as crowns, bridges and dentures. Dentistry 3D printing takes such software a step further to allow technicians to quickly and easily print out their designs so they can be installed in a patient’s mouth. Depending on the specific printer, it’s entirely possible to create a design that doesn’t warp, which is essential for overall functionality and longevity.
Before installing anything in a patient’s mouth made from a 3D printer, technicians can also print out “test gums.” Doing so allows them to try out their creations to see how they’ll perform in a person’s mouth. This technique can go a long way in avoiding accidentally damaging a person’s gums and tissue.
Saving Money and Time
Many people can most certainly agree that healthcare is a massive expense, which is sometimes an equally massive barrier for patients getting the proper care their teeth need. One of the great things about 3D printing is that it’s becoming more cost efficient, which means that patients likely won’t have to pay as much for bite splints, dentures or braces. Even better is the fact that patients don’t have to worry about compromised quality for their less expensive dental equipment. This means that dental patients have one less barrier and worry when it comes to keeping up with their regular dentist appointments.
The combination of 3D printing and dentistry also means that dentists and other oral health professionals and their patients save time. Rather than needing several hours to make custom bridges and crowns, technicians and dentists can create them in a matter of minutes. Dentists can see more patients, grow their practices faster and improve their overall rate of customer satisfaction.
Better Oral Health
Something else to think about with dentistry and 3D printing is the fact that it can improve a patient’s overall oral health and general life satisfaction. While patients can opt for dentures or implants to replace missing or damaged teeth, they might soon have the options of having their new teeth made with a 3D printer, which some might prefer and find more affordable.
Even though most of the dentistry 3D printing innovations mentioned above might be several years from reality, it means there are several exciting changes and possibilities for the dental world. Who knows what might develop next?