Like fingerprints, each set of teeth is unique. This means when dental issues arise, it requires a somewhat customized solution. 3D printing is well suited to the dental industry because of it’s advantage to rapidly produce custom designs. Stereolithography produces models at especially high resolutions sufficient for orthodontic models. This article focuses on some of the applications of 3D printing in dentistry today and includes up-and-coming developments in the industry.
Crowns and Bridges
One of the most common orthodontic procedures is the use of crowns or bridges to correct for damaged or missing teeth. Dentists can use a variety of materials for prosthodontics, some of the more common being ceramics and metal alloys. While direct metal printing is restricted to costly DMLS systems (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) more cost efficient solutions exist with Castable materials.
Formlabs’ Castable Resin can print digital crown or bridge models at high resolutions. It can then be cast in the metal of your choosing through a process known as investment casting. The printed part is used in a mold and then burned out to create a hollow negative. The metal is then cast to create a crown or bridge.
Verifying the fit of prosthodontics prior to cementing them to a patient’s teeth is often critically important. After scanning a patients mouth using a 3D scanner, Dental Model Resin allows you to produce a 3D model of a patient’s teeth for testing the fit of prosthodontic components. Dental Model Resin is optimized for the high accuracy required in orthodontics, and accuracy testing verifies that over 80% of the printed model falls within 35 microns of the intended dimensions. For more information, read Dr. Michael Scherer’s white paper on accuracy in dental 3D printing.
Dental drilling requires a high degree of precision as hitting the wrong nerve at best results in a high degree of discomfort for the patient and at worst can cause partial facial paralysis. Such is the necessity of highly trained and experienced surgeons. DentalSG Resin improves patient outcomes and the overall reliability of this process
DentalSG Resin is a Class I biocompatible material meaning it’s rated for up to 24 hours of intra-oral use. It’s fully sterilizable and used to create functional guides for orthodontic surgeons. A scan is taken of the patient’s teeth and then guides are created in the model to accommodate metal drilling inserts. During surgery, the guide is placed over the patient’s teeth and used to align the drill, resulting in greater reliability.
Direct Printed Orthodontics
Current workflows for producing orthodontic devices like retainers and splints are often multi-step; requiring first that a mold be made of the teeth and then that the final retainer be created via thermoforming. DentalLT Clear Resin simplifies this process by allowing for the direct production of orthodontic devices.
DentalLT Clear Resin is a Class IIa biocompatible material rated for long-term intra-oral use. It allows for devices like nightguards and splints to be directly printed, eliminating steps in a historically complex workflow. Formlabs has partnered with 3Shape to produce an end-to-end digital dentistry workflow. Using the 3Shape Trios 3D scanner, technicians can produce scans of a patient’s teeth. The scans are brought into 3Shape’s software suite and prepared for printing on the Formlabs Form 2.
Future Developments in Digital Dentistry
DentalLT Clear Resin is the first in a series of upcoming materials rated for long term intra-oral use. Recently, Formlabs announced a fully printable denture solution that will be available later this year. The use of multiple biocompatible materials will allow for the direct printing of functional dentures, significantly lowering costs for both clinicians and patients. Visit Formlabs’ Dentistry materials page to get updates on the development and availability of a fully printable denture solution.
Digital Dentistry is rapidly evolving with a number of new workflows, materials, and products. These 4 applications utilize 3D printing to improve the reliability of procedures, improve outcomes for patients, and significantly reduce the costs and labor involved with producing individualized dental devices.