The Role of 3D Printing in Dentistry

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For quite a while, 3D printing has been prophesied to be a disruptive technology in the manufacturing world. Whether it is defense and aerospace or design and art, 3D printing has garnered tremendous attention and turned out to become a study with great interest with a wide range of applications.

Two applications that have had much traction over the past few years are 3D modeling and imaging technologies. CAD and CAM technologies have already been used in dentistry, a crucial aspect of 3D systems.

Various studies are being conducted to develop new ways to use 3D printing principles in dentistry. Some applications of 3D printing in dentistry that have gained prominence over the years are the manufacturing of craniomaxillofacial, orthopedic, and dental implants, the fabrication of prosthodontic physical models, and the production of frameworks and copings for dental restorations and implants. This article shall explain these concepts and elucidate their relevance in dentistry.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing method that builds one layer of an object at a time, adding multiple layers one over the other. This method uses additive manufacturing principles and is also widely known as rapid prototyping.

Applications of 3D Printing in Dentistry

Medical Modeling

The earliest application of 3D printing that has shown the most progress in dentistry and medical science is the manufacturing of an anatomical ‘study model.’ Along with CBCT, another pathbreaking technological advancement that has made its foray into mainstream dentistry, this application has entirely transformed how the diagnosis and solutions of various dental issues are carried out.

Drilling and Cutting Guides

Medical tools must be precise and robust. They also need to be capable of disinfection and sterilization and possess the ability to be used in surgical environments. One excellent tool is the drill guide which has found great use in dentistry apart from being fully embraced by orthopedics in knee replacement surgeries.

Denture Frameworks and Crown Copings

The applications of laboratory scanners and intraoral optical scanners have made it possible to develop accurate virtual models of implant positions, prepared teeth, and dental arches. Treatments in fixed and removable prosthodontics can be designed using various CAD software. These CAD designs and data could be used to print or mill bridge structures, implant abutments, and bridge or crown copings.

Dental Implants

Multiple manufacturers worldwide have been applying 3D printing technologies to develop novel dental implant solutions. They have rough and porous surfaces. Although porous and rough surface dental implants have been infamous over the years to disappear as their fallacies become more surface, new technologies are being tested and tried to overcome their shortcomings. 

New methods are also being developed to produce multiple batches of highly complex dental implants as 3D printing can produce complex geometries, which milling doesn’t and can hence be used to create intricate implants with bone-like morphology.

In Conclusion

As time progresses, studies are being carried out, leading to new technologies being developed that only widen the horizons of 3D printing. 3D printing has revolutionized how medical science progresses and has had a significant effect on dentistry as well, which in all respect is only expected to grow.

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