Since its inception in 1984, 3D printing has been researched, studied and tested for its application in medical and dental manufacturing applications, including dental crowns, bridges and implants. While it’s still in its infancy, 3D scanners and CAD/CAM technologies have the ability to create three dimensional objects from a digital file. From prosthetics to human tissue engineering to dental implants, scientists continue to challenge the capability of this new medical marvel known as 3D printing.
Why 3D Printing is the Future of Dentistry
Generally, patients who need dental crowns face a 2-visit process. For the first visit, a patient has to have a mold taken of his prepared tooth (or teeth!) with a gooey impression material in a tray which must stay motionless in the mouth for 3-5 minutes. This is the most precise method of getting a crown to fit that is spot-on perfect with margins (edges) accurate to within microns. After it stiffens the tray is removed and a temporary crown is fabricated and temporarily cemented so that a patient can continue with their normal activities for the 2-4 weeks it takes a dental lab to get the finished ceramic restoration back. During this time, the patient has to be very careful about what they eat so as not to pull the temporary crown off. At the second and last visit, the permanent crown is tried on, adjusted and then cemented or bonded into place. [Read more…]