What is 3D printing?
Very simply, a printer puts out layer after layer of thin material to build up a three dimensional object. This is often called additive manufacturing, in contrast to the “subtractive” manufacturing or milling done for our same day crowns. Instead of removing material to create an object (i.e. crown or onlay), the appropriate type of liquid resin is applied in thin layers and then cured to create the appliance or restoration needed.
3D printing has been around since the 80s and 90s, but the term and its use has recently seen a big upswing. The machines themselves are quite simple, and wouldn’t be much without the sophisticated design software that allows our dentists to design restorations, appliances and guides from start to finish in a virtual environment. At Strobel, we use Itero, Dentsply Sirona, and SureSmile software, among others!
How is 3D printing used in Dentistry?
As the technology continues to develop, the possibilities are pretty much endless! Right now, considering what will maximize resources, time, and benefit to the patient, we will be printing:
- hard night guards
- surgical guides for implants.
- In the near future, express orthodontics cases!
Why is 3D printing any better than traditional methods?
When evaluating any product, the most common considerations are quality, time, and cost. Bringing the manufacturing of these appliances gives us heightened control over the output, allowing us to better meet individual needs. Longer term, as we continue to integrate the technology into our practice, it will result in a considerable time and cost savings that we can pass on to our patients.