When you think of 3D printing, lots of things may come to mind—fun items like key chains or trinkets, and some useful things like toothpaste tube squeezers or headphone wraps so your headphone wires don’t tangle. You are probably familiar with some medical prosthetics as well.
Maybe you do think about the advances in the medical world, but who knew that the dental field is the largest 3D printing market? According to an article in the Huffington Post, the 3D industry is where more than $4 billion in prosthetic, orthodontic and other dental parts are made each year.
How is the Dental Industry Using 3D Printing?
The dental industry is taking advantage of 3D printing and being transformed by not only the products themselves but also how 3D printing improves procedures.
Here are some dental products commonly being 3D printed, according to Envisiontec:
- Highly accurate dental and orthodontic models
- Castable crowns, bridges and partial denture frameworks
- Direct crowns and bridges
- Bite splints or night guards
- Indirect bonding trays
- Surgical drill guides
- Denture bases
Benefits of 3D Printing in the Dental World
The dental world is seeing immense benefits form 3D printing for both the practitioners and the patients. Here’s why:
With the ease of 3D printing, dentists can cut cost for themselves and their patients. 3D printers are becoming more affordable, and it’s practical now to have one in office. The need to send images out to third-party manufacturers is becoming a thing of the past, and the dentists can save money this way and in turn, so can the patients.
Now that dentists can have 3D printers in their offices, they can produce the needed product in a matter of minutes. Just like making procedures more affordable by not having to send images out to be created, it saves time as well. Patients don’t have to make multiple visits and wait with temporary crowns or other appliances in their mouths.
Another advantage of 3D printing is the precision in which product is created. Using exact images combined with digital dentistry, the teeth or other models are created to exact specifications to fit perfectly where they need to go.
Some new materials are being used in 3D printing to make for better products. For example, the Dental Review shares information on a new antimicrobial material that will kill bacteria in the mouth. This leads to better oral hygiene and less tooth decay over time.
Patient education is another advantage. Because all of this can take place in office, the dentist can share what is being done and show the patient how best to care for his or her mouth. By involving the patient more, a better experience can take place.
3D dentistry is transforming the dental world. Big things are happening, and it’s all to the advantage of the patient as well as the dentist. These innovations make an overall better experience for the patient, which will lead to long-term dental health.