Dental 3D printing is a revolutionary new technology that has made it easier for dentists to provide breakthrough dental treatments. Dentists use 3D printers to create prosthetics and models of mouths, teeth, and jaws, to help plan care for their patients.
3D printers have helped trigger a global revolution rapidly transforming everything from how we live to how we work. In just a few short years, they have become the hottest new technology since the smartphone. With its myriad applications, from big data to healthcare, this revolutionary tool has already disrupted many industries and is changing how we do business. Big data has proven essential for optimizing product design and ensuring quality control during manufacturing. Dental 3D printing also develops strategies for high-quality dental products and instrument manufacture. Here are some types of 3d printed dental products.
Dental Products That Can Be 3D Printed
1. Prosthetic Teeth
A dental prosthetic replaces an anatomically missing tooth, often used to replace a single missing tooth or more. Prosthetic teeth are made of plastic, porcelain, or amalgam (the technical term used by dentists and dental technologists).
Prosthetics can be manufactured in a 3D printer using CAM software such as SolidWorks. This computers-on-a-chip that prints models, designs, and prototypes are available in various shapes and sizes with resolutions including a 0.1-millimeter line on the extremely good level up to 300 microns for larger teeth.
Dental 3D printing can also create customized dentures for patients with gaps in their mouths. Dentures are either complete or partial and replace a single missing tooth or several missing teeth. Dentures are fabricated by the dentist’s laboratory technician, or in some cases, by the dentist.
3. Dental Implant and Inlay
Dental 3D printing can also create dental implants and inlays customized to the patient’s individual space, anatomy, and mouth structure. Dentists use CAD/CAM software to design the implant or inlay. 3D printers create these items using various materials, including titanium, ceramic, cobalt chrome, and porcelain. The finished products are then polished to produce a smooth finish, just like natural teeth.
4. Dental Crowns
An impression is made of a tooth (typically using the patient’s bite) and is sent to the dental laboratory, where a crown is created around it. Crowns are used to restore one or several missing teeth to maintain the integrity of the mouth after dental extractions. Because every tooth has unique characteristics, crowns must be individually made for each patient, which requires experience and skill from the dental lab technician.
5. Dental Veneers
Dental 3D printing can also be used to create customized dental veneers for patients who want to change the appearance of their teeth for cosmetic reasons. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain made by a dental lab and bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth. They can conceal discolored teeth or improve the look of chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
Benefits of Dental 3D Printing
While most dentists have relied on traditional methods to produce dental models and prosthetic teeth, 3D printing is a more efficient way to serve patients.
Until now, dentists have often needed multiple model-making techniques, dental laboratories, and trained technicians to make models for patients. Here are some of its benefits.
Dental 3D printing allows dentists to create accurate models based on their patients’ needs. It is a better way to produce prosthetics because it minimizes the chances of making mistakes. It also makes it easier for dentists to produce accurate, complete crowns and veneers.
2. Ease of Use
The design software used in dental 3D printing is very simple, especially for new technology such as this one. Dentists can use their existing data and imaging systems instead of learning new software. They can also use existing CAM software instead of trying to learn a new one.
3. Cost Savings
Customized dental prosthetics are more affordable than creating prosthetics using a traditional method. The more time you save during the design process, the less time it will take to produce the prosthetic teeth. In some cases producing a crown could take as little as 45 minutes as opposed to an hour or more. The faster it is made, the lower the cost of its production.
4. Better Patient Care
An accurate impression of a patient’s mouth is crucial to providing the best care. While it may take up to an hour to create an impression of each tooth, 3D printing allows dentists to make these in less than 10 minutes. The information gained from the process ultimately helps improve results and care for the patient.
5. Reduced Cost
Traditional products cost more because they require a lot of labor and time. This is especially the case with custom-made prosthetic teeth. With a 3D printer, prosthetics can be made in just a few minutes for much less material, time and cost. Because the designs are complete and accurate, new materials are also used to save on production costs and materials used during manufacturing.
6. Environmentally Friendly
Traditional manufacturing takes up a lot of space, resources, and energy. When materials are used to produce a single product, it can take up to 3 times more material than that required for 3D printing. Dentists also have more operational space in their offices when they use 3D printing. This is especially true when the dental laboratory is located offsite and requires extra transportation of materials from a lab or manufacturer.
Steps for Dental 3D Printing
1. Designing the Product
A dentist creates a design for the crown or denture. The file is then imported into the 3D printer’s software and output through a printer. The printer builds up layers of material to create it using electrical currents, heat, and mechanical pressure that fuse fusing materials such as plastic paste or powders. When the product is completed, it is removed from the printer’s platform and placed in water to harden or baked to cure it.
2. Exporting the STL File
The STL file created by the 3D printer is exported to the dental lab, where it is used to make prosthetic teeth. A patient’s dental impressions are then taken and scanned into the software, creating a CAD file of that specific model.
3. Submit the File
A dentist then submits the file to a lab where it can be converted into a milling language, such as DXF or STL, for making prosthetic teeth. Specific dental labs use the CAD file to create plaster models of patients’ teeth that are later used in creating molds for making crowns, bridges, and dentures.
4. Choosing Your Materials
An additive used to create prosthetic teeth is also applied to it. The materials are put into a 3D printer and under heat for about 30 minutes. The heat helps to liquefy the materials and prepare them for printing. The dental lab technician then injects the wax into the tooth’s cavity using a syringe before using a device that spreads material through holes in the sprue machine onto the tooth’s surface.
5. Creating the Gcode
The gcode is created using the CAD file. This design is then output to a 3D printer. The material is then used in making the wax mold of the patient’s tooth, which is later used in creating a custom crown or veneer for them.
6. Printing onto Wax Paper
A wax paper coated with an additive is placed inside the 3D printer and prepared for printing. The printer moves the nozzle in a circular pattern on the paper’s surface. This pattern is created using a CAD file, which keeps the 3D printer from rolling off its path, allowing it to create a smoother surface for printing.
1. How long does it take to 3D print dentures?
Dentures can be 3D printed in about 10 minutes or less. Yes, you read that correctly. They take only a fraction of the time it takes to store molds and create regular custom prosthetic teeth.
2. What is the best material to use when 3D printing dentures?
While many materials are used to 3D print dentures, there’s only one that stands out among all others: polyamide. It offers a high degree of accuracy and flexibility, making it ideal for 3D printing dentures.
3. How do you repair a part broken in a 3D-printed denture?
3D printing is a great method to create replacement parts for broken dentures. Using 3D printing, a dentist can make a replica of the part and reprint it on one of their dental molds, allowing them to produce the same part again.
4. What is the process for making dentures in one day?
Dentures can be 3D printed in one day. Most offices will send the data to the lab after a cast is completed. The lab creates a mold, which is sent back to the office before the patient leaves.