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3D printing has opened up many new possibilities for dentists, particularly in oral surgery, prosthetics and orthodontics. (Image: Juan1023/Shutterstock)

3D printing: Revolution in dentistry

By Dr George Freedman, Canada
October 05, 2021

3D printing has arrived in dentistry. Like with the other great paradigm shifts of the past 50 years in the profession (cosmetic dentistry, implants and diagnostics), major advances are very apparent on the near horizon. The needs are many, the technologies numerous, the applications almost unlimited and the potential open-ended. Just like cosmetic materials and techniques brought aesthetic restorative dentistry into the hands of every practitioner, 3D printing promises to bring functional and artistic control of the restorative process into the chairside setting.

The digital transformation of dentistry, including CBCT, intra-oral and extra-oral scanning, milling of ceramic and composite materials, and robotic implant placement, is firmly established.

Stereolithography, first developed in the 1980s, was soon followed by additive manufacturing, the deposition of material in increments. Dental applications are more recent. 3D printing has been utilised for rapid prototyping and modelling for more than a decade. The size and cost of the earlier printers meant that they were limited to larger laboratories. The most recent desktop printers have a much smaller footprint, are easily affordable for the single practitioner, communicate with existing software platforms and offer high levels of precision with a wide range of materials.

Current 3D printers are fully capable of managing the great demand for temporary, transitional, and permanent restorations and appliances and of achieving the clinical excellence required by the dental profession. Consequently, there has been a growing acceptance of this transformative technology. Increasingly, 3D printing is viewed as an industry game-changer and a forecast
of the future direction of the dental practice.

3D-printing techniques include stereolithography, fused deposition modelling, selective laser sintering, powder binder printing, photopolymer jetting, electron beam melting and direct light processing.

The documented, wide-ranging 3D-printing applications can be grouped by treatment category:

  • Fixed prosthodontics: Permanent and provisional indirect restorations (crowns, onlays, inlays, bridges) and permanent monobloc direct restorations can all be custom-fabricated chairside within minutes of scanning the preparation.
  • Removable prosthodontics: Both complete and partial dentures, including digital occlusal design, are deliverable within hours.
  • Implant dentistry: 3D printing of surgical guides has facilitated ideal implant positioning. Biomimetic custom 3D-printed bone implants replace missing segments, minimising stress transfer to the remaining bone.
  • Orthodontics: Aligners, designed using CBCT data and articial intelligence extrapolation of tooth movement over time, are 3D-printed.
  • Endodontics: The pioneering 3D-printed endodontic access guide, utilising CBCT data, translates pre-surgical planning into clinical success.
  • Maxillofacial surgery: Custom-designed bone grafts and xation plates expedite both the surgical procedure and the healing process.
  • Periodontics: 3D-printed guides that relieve and retract gingival margins offer aesthetic gingival correction. Soft-tissue printing is currently in the research phase.

3D-printing techniques and procedures are high-quality, high precision, accurate and signicantly lower in cost than conventional treatment options. Dentists save money: many desktop printers cost between US$3,000 and US$10,000, and dental 3D-printing materials cost pennies per tooth. Patients save money, by the elimination of intermediate procedures and transportation costs. Treatment is faster, typically same-day services.

Welcome to 3D printing! Welcome to the future of dentistry!

  1. Carlos Valdebenito Zepeda says:

    Solicitó información del master

  2. Lias Hocini says:

    Comment bénéficier des replays des conférences ADF 2021 ?
    Car cette année on a été privé du visa pour rentrer en France afin d assister au congrès.

  3. Edwin Ramirez says:

    Buenas noches, dan cursos de unos pocos días? Quisiera uno de 4-6 días en los próximos meses, gracias.

  4. Suhasini Vigrahala says:

    Excellent work!! Keep going Aditya.

  5. Valeria sotomayor miranda says:

    Buenos días quisiera información y costos del congreso.

  6. René Gruythuysen says:

    Een goed initiatief om dit thema opnieuw onder de aandacht te brengen. Wij hebben het thema uitgebreid behandeld in de AccreDidact cursus ‘Problematische mondzorg bij zorgafhankelijke patiënten’ (2019).

  7. Dr Naresh Shah says:

    Dr Boghani Saheb our beloved and highly respected teacher of periodontics. We have worked to gather in local, state and national Indian Dental Association (IDA). He was very friendly inspite of age difference. He was our friend, philosopher and guide in all aspect. Our heartfelt tributes to him. We have lost a great mentor. Pray to all mighty to rest his soul in peace.

  8. Dr Prutha Barad says:

    Lucky one to come across such legend..

  9. oscar castillo says:

    Este articulo miente en ser la única en impartir la especialidad en Implantología, la Universidad Westhill la imparte también, el decir la verdad engrandece su credibilidad.

  10. eddy De Valck says:

    De mogelijkheid tot direct opvragen van het tandheelkundige dossier van een patiënt door een forensisch odontoloog, belast door een magistraat met onderzoek tot identificatie, kan een belangrijke meerwaarde geven aan het identificatie onderzoek. Het zou alleszins de onzekerheid omtrent het lot van hun geliefde voor de families merkelijk kunnen beperken en de wachttijd vooraleer tot identificatie kan worden geconcludeerd inkorten. Een centraal beheerd databestand van de tanddossiers zou in elk geval hierbij een enorme meerwaarde bieden evenzeer als duidelijke wetgeving omtrent inhoud en bijhouden van een tandheelkundig patiënten dossier. Als hoofdodontoloog van het Belgische DVI team hebben we dit in het verleden helaas maar al te vaak moeten vaststellen.

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