02 Apr 2018

The Benefits of 3D Printing for Dentistry

Smiling woman on dentist's chair

Smiling woman on dentist's chairThe idea of using technology to create things seemingly out of nowhere first came into the mainstream through science fiction. Star Trek called these replicators, and it seemed incredibly cool but ultimately not real to the audience.

Today, the technology is not only real, but it is available to everyone in the form of 3D technology. It has many applications, and one of these is in dentistry. One report estimates that the market could reach $3.1 billion by 2020.

Here are some benefits of 3D printing for dentistry, a service offered by dental labs such as Orthodenco Orthodontic Lab.

Fast

Back in the day, a dentist would make an impression of the patient’s teeth using a soft rubber-like material called alginate. The impression goes to the dental lab, which makes whatever the dentist needs. It would typically take several days to several weeks before the patient can come back in for a fitting.

Dentists can now simply take a digital image of a patient’s mouth and send it to a lab to make an implant, crown, or appliance. It takes just minutes for a 3D-equipped lab to produce plastic aligners, for example.

Accurate

Traditional ways of making crowns, retainers, and other dental appliances require adjustments. This is because they do not fit very well, so the dentist has to fix it. It sometimes takes several visits to get it right. This is less likely to happen with 3D printed items because it prints microns-thick layers at a time.

This allows fine details to emerge for a better fit.

Cost-effective

Dentists that use 3D printing for their patients can afford to charge less because they save on chair time for each patient needing a dental or orthodontic appliance. They can save even more if they do the printing in-house since the patient can wait for it instead of coming back.

However, few dentists can afford to buy the type of 3D printer they need, or train and employ the staff to operate it. That is not really a big problem as dental labs can do this better, almost as quickly, and cost-effectively.

Conclusion

Patients can get better and cheaper dental appliances faster if their dentists use 3D printing for dentistry. They can do it in-house or send it to a lab. In either case, the technology is available for anyone who wants it.

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