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01 April 2015

3D Printing: The Future of Dentistry

The Internet is going crazy over the amazing things people are creating with 3D printers these days, and it is difficult not to get excited over what may be the future of manufacturing. But out of all the things that are coming out on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram, not many of them are actually practical – very cool, but not practical.

Nothing New

Fortunately, that is may be changing in a few months’ time since dental technology may soon include 3D printing teeth. The ability to print teeth drastically cuts down the time needed to make implants and dentures for patients, as well as their cost. According to experts in the technology, it can be possible to print a tooth in less than seven minutes. Imagine, being able to wait at the office for your new set of teeth, avoiding all the days of eating awkwardly, and avoiding smiling or laughing to hide the missing teeth.

This is obviously good news, but many people are quick to point out that the technology to create teeth while a patient waits isn’t exactly new; in fact, it’s been possible for the last thirty years. The process is known as Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics (CEREC). The technique has more in common with sculpting than printing, because dentists essentially mills new teeth from porcelain with the help of scanners and drills.

Nothing New, But Better

Both of the techniques have the ability to create products with enough quality to replace crown, veneers, and teeth. The only difference is that 3D printing can create ‘teeth’ with more custom shapes and intricate details to better fit the mouth such as grooves, valleys, and crannies. The greater focus on precision and accuracy provided by 3D printing makes it a better alternative to CEREC; the only problem is the time it takes to print a single tooth.

Now there is a technology arms race in the works that is pitting companies against each other to find a faster way to make printing faster. The competition is good for the dental industry, since it can move up the timetable on when dentists can expect to have a 3D printer as a staple in their offices.

Dental technology and techniques are always on the move and keeping up with them can be a chore sometimes. Fortunately, we can become the reliable resource you need to keep abreast of what is going on in the industry. All you need to do is contact us directly, or explore the rest of our website for the information you are looking for.

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