The technology working behind 3D printing has continuously swept the globe from the time it was first introduced to the public. It comes with seemingly endless applications and a wide range of possible uses are still in the line-up for tapping in the coming years.
Nowadays, the dental and the medical space are tapping into its full potential to fill in some void in their practice.
Traditional dental laboratories can stick on doing their traditional typewriter approach if 3-dimensional printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, will continue to advance and sustain its current pace. However, they run the risk of being left out in the rat race here.
3-Dimensional Printing in the Dentistry Sector is Becoming Ever More Common
According to a SmarTech forecast published in May 2015, additive manufacturing is on its way to becoming a solid $3.1 billion industry in the dental market by 2020. The projected market value is estimated at $780 million.
While 3-dimensional printing is expected to become more common in other industries, a more robust generation of 3D printers and needed materials are already being developed for the exclusive use of dentists.
SmarTech also predicted that by 2020, the sale of 3D printer devices to dental facilities and laboratories would have doubled, from $240 million to $480 million.
By the year 2025, 3D printer technology is anticipated to become instrumental in filling up more than 60% of all dental product manufacturing requirements. It could even get higher in the dental modeling field.
3D Printing in Dentistry: What It Would Do
How do professional dentists exploit 3-dimensional printing to the fullest nowadays? We have jotted down some classic examples below:
Replacing or patching up a chipped tooth.
The dentist can make use of a handheld optical wand for this. Such a piece of dental equipment will help him scan the condition and overall health of his patient’s teeth and gums.
The optical wand will generate a representation of the patient’s oral health and store the information in a digital file format. Your attending dentist will need to come up with a digital design of the tooth replacement, if needed be, and print out the finished layout on a 3D printer. Such may call for the use of computer-aided design (CAD) application software.
Creation of an Orthodontic model.
Prior to our use of 3D printer technology, dental patients were being asked to bite down on gooey, unpleasant clay that later on stiffens into a mold. Dentists used to take advantage of this as their reference map for designing dental braces.
With regard to 3-dimensional printing purposes, this is not the case.The dentist will scan the teeth, come up with an orthodontic device, and position it using the same technology as in the first example.
Produce bridges, caps, crowns, dentures, and more:
All types of dental implants can now be created with a 3D printing method. The difference, though, will be upon the type of printing medium to be used.
Construct Surgical Tools
3D printers can not only accommodate dental implants, but they take charge of printing in 3D the drill manuals. They are eventually used as a guide in completing dental procedures.
The dental industry counts so much on dental laboratories when it comes to creating their required dental crowns, bridges, and other implants needed by their patients. Why are we making a transition to 3-dimensional printing now?
In a nutshell, it works for the good of everyone, and here is how:
Dentists Can Save Money
Installing a dental laboratory to a dental practice is a major investment. The initial cost of implementation alone, if undertaken in an in-house setup, could reach $100,000.
Then, after all that, there’s the continuing cost of hiring professional staff. These are your hired personnel whom you will delegate to make your required dental implants.
Generally speaking, the cost of operating a dental clinic can come close to $100,000 per year, depending on the volume of work. In comparison, the most expensive 3D printer has a one-time cost of around $20,000, which includes a supply of raw materials.
The lifetime cost comes with ongoing supplies, but if you will look at it closely it’s just a small fraction of a dental lab operating cost.
Patients save money.
The soaring costs of adding and operating a dental laboratory are reflected in each patient’s bill. A single crown may cost nearly $2,000 or more for each patient and for this typically dental professionals will be using traditional methods, to which they are so accustomed to doing.
Dental professionals will pass on that savings to their patients since 3D printers eliminate overhead costs by around 80%. Therefore, the working technology behind 3D printers benefits both the patients and dental pros.