Three Dimensional Printing (3-D Printing)

Three Dimensional Printing (3-D Printing) is a technology that is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. Jewlery, construction materials, and firearm fabrication are some of the commonly known uses for 3-D printing, but 3-D printing in dentistry has changed the way we perform some common tasks in our office.

Many people have been told that they grind their teeth. A common remedy to grinding is the fabrication of a bite appliance also known as a nightguard, splint, or occlusal appliance. Traditionally, the fabrication of these appliances were done by hand in a dental laboratory. Today in our office we capture digital impressions of your teeth and use computer aided-design (CAD) software to digitally design the bite appliance. We then print it in our office and can have it ready within a day. The two major benefits in fabrication of these appliances in this manner for our patients are:

1. The turnaround time to recieve the appliance is shortened from 3 weeks to 24 hours 2. If your appliance becomes your dog’s favorite chew toy it is very simple to reprint another appliance

Nightguard or bite appliances that have been three dimensionally or 3-D printed.
Bite appliances after they have completed the 3-D printing process.

We also use this techonolgy to design and print models of teeth, surgical guides for implants, and miscellaneous items around the dental office. The printing time for various objects change with the size of the item, but typically most prints in our office take 4-6 hours. The ultimate goal for 3-D printing in our office is to reduce the use of gooey and runny impression materials. Using this technology, gooey impression materials are limited to dentures and certain veneer restorations.

Dental models that are 3-D printed
Dental models that have been removed of residual resin, but are still attached to the printing plate.

Joe Bousaba, DMD

Leave a Reply