The dental industry is undergoing rapid technological changes, which are reflected in both improved quality of services and lower prices for dental practices. Let´s identify five revolutionary 3D printing methods that could transform the dental business.
Inexpensive And Mass Production to Order
Dentistry has always needed a high degree of product customization. Each person has their own unique pattern of tooth placement, so the doctor’s prescriptions for each patient may be different.
In traditional manual workflows, the quality of the final product is dependent on the skill of the individual. It becomes too difficult and expensive to produce high-quality dental products in this way.
Thanks to digital workflows, every dental product is created exactly according to the patient’s anatomy. 3D printers can produce a wide variety of dental products with high quality and minimal error. With the help of 3D printers and special materials, it is possible to:
- print models for fitting prostheses,
- mockups for permanent wear and temporary crowns,
- surgical templates,
- structures made of burned-out material for cast and pressed products,
- models for the manufacture of aligners,
- such biocompatible dental products as splints,
- fully and partially removable dentures,
- keys for indirect transfer of braces and many others.
Digital technology simplifies workflows, minimizes chances of error, speeds up denture fabrication, reduces costs, and reduces labor costs for both dental laboratories and dental surgeries.
Aligners: The End of Traditional Orthodontics
Orthodontics, like the entire dental industry, has come a long way since the introduction of traditional metal braces. Wire braces are, of course, still needed in some particularly difficult cases. But aligners are an attractive alternative today that are used to treat millions of patients.
Aligners could not exist without digital technology. Their production is a combination of a number of digital workflows. An orthodontist or dentist first takes a 3D impression of the patient’s dentition using an intraoral scanner. Or they can take a traditional impression for subsequent scanning. The aligners are manufactured using vacuum molding technology using 3D printed models.
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I recommend visiting „British Dental Journal“to find out more about 3D printing dentistry
Digital technology simplifies complex surgical procedures. Computed tomography, implant placement planning, and surgical guides are becoming the new standards in implantology. New practices ensure accurate implant placement during surgery, reduce the risk of patient injury and surgical complications, and improve overall clinical outcomes.
For instance, the manufacturing process for surgical templates. Implantologists combine data from an intraoral scan of the patient’s dentition, as well as information obtained using computed tomography or cone-beam tomography. Next, doctors use CAD software to plan treatment and simulate a template. The 3D printer then creates the template required for specific surgical use.
Previously, the only methods for making surgical templates were manual waxing and duplicating. But due to the complex and expensive equipment, such products can be very expensive. Today, with desktop 3D printers, costs are reduced by 10 or even 100 times! And the use of surgical guides is already becoming common practice.
Traditional prosthetic fabrication is a time-consuming analog workflow that involves multiple manufacturing steps. It is a challenging craft and requires a lot of training. Therefore, it is becoming difficult for dental laboratories to find specialists with advanced skills.
Manufacturing prostheses using a digital workflow consists of fewer steps, resulting in a higher quality end product. Reusable digital dentures can be modified and easily reproduced using 3D printing. Affordable equipment, low cost, and time savings make such products more attractive than hand-made prostheses.
Scanning techniques, software, and materials are evolving. They allow digital prosthetics to reach their full potential. With 50 million dentures manufactured worldwide every year, digital dentures are able to replace the traditional workflow, providing a more holistic approach to the treatment that patients need.
And The Patient is Satisfied
After all, it is patients who will benefit most from the advances in digital dentistry.
Virtual treatment planning, virtual MOCK-UP simulations, and detailed dental impressions can help patients imagine treatment in great detail. This reduces the patient’s anxiety.
Taking an imprint of a patient with an intraoral scan is faster and more convenient than with traditional impressions. Moreover, the products can be more aesthetic (prosthetic anatomy), and treatment methods can be more precise and less invasive. In addition, such workflows tend to be faster, as digitalization eliminates some of the work steps.
Precise and consistent treatment means that patients will return to the dental office much less frequently. This will save patients time and money.
To sum up, despite the commonly used narrative of “traditional versus digital workflows,” modern dentistry can combine the best of both practices. The use of digital technologies in dental work opens up many new opportunities for both the industry and the client.