3dbaz- As we all know, there are many applications for 3D printing, especially within the medical industry. In particular, Additive Manufacture is gaining a significant position within dentistry. Today, millions of orthodontic braces, dental crowns and bridges are being made with the help of 3D printing. Industrial 3D printers are being used to create these high end, high precision dental parts, and the printers used to print them cost over a million US dollars.
Previously, dentists relied on investment casting to create the small metal parts in false teeth, which is a process with several steps:
- Create the patient’s tooth model out of wax
- Create a ceramic mould of the wax model
- Melt the wax
- Pour the molten metal into the mold
Once the mould is opened, the cast can be removed and prepared for use. This process dates back around five thousand years, and is not only labour intensive, it also isn’t always completely accurate. With the help of 3D printing, the process of creating implants can now be a lot faster and accurate with less hassle.
At University of Louisville School of Dentistry, specialists have developed a digitally aided surgery technique which involves the 3D scanning of patients’ jaw, gums and teeth, making a set of temporary teeth through CNC milling and finally 3D printing the templates and surgical models required. The specialists are testing out a fully digitized approach to computer-aided dental surgery. The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry published an article on this. Researchers described the fully digital surgical procedure in detail, and they believe that this technological advancement could be greatly beneficial for a hassle free surgery experience.
In order to test the efficiency of the 3D scanning and printing protocol, the team used their method in the replacement of two teeth of a female patient at the School of Dentistry’s clinic. First, the patient’s mouth was 3D scanned to obtain the required digital information instead of taking an impression of the teeth in a physical mold. The scanning process is said to be a lot less invasive and more accurate. After gathering this information, the team began the process of designing the restoration teeth. For this, CAD software was used followed by CNC milling. Then, using some 3D printed templates and models of the mouth, the surgeon placed all the dental implants without any disruption in the gum flaps of the patient.