There are few industries that have not experienced a major digital transformation recently. Of those few, there are some that, on the surface, can seem less affected by digital technologies. But, when you go just below the surface, they may benefit more than most from digitalization. The dental industry is a prime example.
4 Ways 3D Printing Transforms the Dental Industry
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, can benefit industries that have costly manufacturing processes, and/or need a high degree of customization. Dentistry requires both.
Imagine, we actually used to stick a mold full of putty into a patient’s mouth to get an impression of their teeth in order to create a dental model. 3D printing increases the speed and accuracy of creating dental models while extending their durability and lowering the cost of it all. Instead of putty, intraoral 3D scans of a patient’s teeth are used to create models that are accurate to within 40 microns. Models that don’t chip or break.
It used to be a right of passage for young people, and many adults, to wear a mass of metal wiring in their mouth if they wanted to align their teeth. They couldn’t even remove the braces. And, every so often, adjustments were made to the brace to complete the realignment.
Today, additive manufacturing means dental professionals can capture digital scans and use them to create invisible aligners. Fresh scans allow for the printing of new versions of the aligners for each stage of the alignment. The process is faster and less costly. And the aligners are virtually invisible, more comfortable to wear, and patients can take them out.
There is very little room for error in any dental procedure. But none has less room than dental implants. 3D printing technology allows for the creation of precise surgical guides for greater accuracy of implant placement during surgery. The pinpoint placement means faster procedures, fewer complications during surgery, and better results afterwards.
Happier Dental Patients
Yes, we can say that 3D printing can produce happier patients. Fortunately, they don’t do so by printing, but by improving the patient’s experience. In turn, that removes some of the stigmas that surround visits to the dentist’s office. It can also increase the acceptance of dental procedures that patients might otherwise avoid.
To learn more about additive manufacturing’s benefits for dentistry, check out our article “How 3D Printing is Used in Dental Modeling“.