Ever wondered what’s new at the dentist’s office? If you’re in the hot seat for dentures, crowns, or braces, you may be surprised at the speed you find yourself with a new smile.
Imagine a new set of teeth printed layer by layer before your eyes. Ok, before your dentist’s eyes. 3D printing has been used to print prosthetic limbs, orthopedic and cranial implants, surgical instruments, crowns, and dental restorations.
Electronic Health Records. AI-assisted surgeries. Machine Learning algorithms for more efficient workflows in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Medical technology isn’t new. But what about dental technology? In the Life Sciences field, technology is helping to shape the future of how we heal
What is 3D Printing?
According to the FDA, “3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object by building successive layers of raw material. Each new layer is attached to the previous one until the object is complete. Objects are produced from a 3D file, such as computer-aided design (CAD) drawing or a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI).
The flexibility of this technology allows creation of individualized products such as prosthetics, dentures, or crowns specific to the individual requiring the device.
“It’s Not the Drill, It’s the Bill”
Borrowed from an old commercial, the tagline originally implied patients weren’t afraid of the dentist, but of the bill at the end of the appointment. But with today’s technologies, particularly through the benefits of 3D printing, this tagline isn’t quite so dramatic.
Here are a few ways, 3D printing in dentistry is benefitting both doctor and patient.
1. The Lab is Onsite
Cost savings begin here. When the dentist can do his or her own lab work onsite, it’s less cost to consumers and to the dentist office’s bottom line. Add in the user-friendliness of the available 3D machines which allows dentists to produce molds, models, crowns, bridges, there’s plenty of opportunity to be more efficient and have more control over time and quality of the product.
3D Printers range in price from $20,000-$100,000+ for industrial printers. If you have a dental practice, you could most likely snag a desktop model for around $6,000 or less. Compare that to over $100,000 for outsourcing lab work, labor, and shipping costs included.
2. Getting it Right – More Accurate and Faster Services
Reduce errors and increase accuracy when using 3D printing to convert digital images into physical objects within minutes. Watch as your patient’s dentures, for example, are printed layer-by-layer and usable with minutes, not hours or days.
Your technician can get to work as soon as the scan is ready and won’t be inhaling plaster or grinding dust while they work. A clean work space is a safe work space, no matter the industry.
3. Better Quality Products
Skilled dental technicians are still in high demand. But with the advent of 3D printing, their jobs are made a bit easier, and they’re able to design and create better quality products.
Milled models could wear down over time. But a 3D model offers more stability and durability than its predecessor. Additionally, this digital model creates a more complex structure and offers a higher level of detail that may not be available in more traditional modeling techniques.
4. Enhanced Patient Experience
3D printing technologies have enhanced patient experience by reducing anxiety and increasing patient acceptance. How? Well, when you can print a model to help explain what’s going to be happening to identify and solve a patient’s problems, it can help alleviate their stresses of the unknown.
Add to this a more efficient workflow, more aesthetically pleasing products, and less invasive treatments which make the patient’s visit go more smoothly, and you have a satisfied customer.
5. Save Money
Last, but not least, is probably the biggest benefit to both patient and provider. Saving money.
Though the upfront investment in a 3D can run into around $20,000 for a top model, it includes all the necessary components printer, reduces the need for skilled staff to produce dentures, implants, and other dental restorative models.
These savings are then passed on to the patient not only monetary value, but in time. The more accurate, efficiency, and speed of 3D printers means less time at the dentist’s office. Less return visits. Less error. With an estimated savings up to 80 percent depending on patient’s needs
Smile. Tech is transforming the dental industry. Want to see where it can take you?
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