Back when I was a kid and got my first computer, it led me to a career in programming. This came with another device — a printer. For the young me of the time, it went beyond imagination. Just print any image from the internet to have a physical form of it. Eventually, the wonder faded and it just became a strictly work-related object until I stumbled upon 3D printers. The magic came back stronger; people were using it for almost anything, from action figures of themselves to full Minecraft builds. Unlike regular printers that became household objects, 3D ones got their professional uses in specific industries so not everyone may know about it. One of them is the dental industry.
Repairing dental problems with 3D printing
Dental repairs the old way used to be quite a hassle, to say the least. While it is essential to repair a tooth, the process is so frustratingly time-consuming. The interval between the initial appointment, taking measurements, and waiting for it to be made can take days or weeks. Technology has changed many things in the industry, so it was bound to change this process too.
Behind the scenes and unbeknownst to most patients, some institutions have been migrating to a simpler system. It is as simple as taking an intra-oral scan of the mouth and sending the digital file to a specialized 3D printer. If you had your mouth scanned when repairing teeth, it is likely the reparation you have on was 3D printed.
We <3 3D printing too 😍
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— SprintRay (@SprintRay) February 14, 2023
How it started
Of course, the progress happened over time, starting in the 1980s. One Dr. Hideo Kodama patented a machine that created parts layer by layer using a resin that hardened under UV light. Unfortunately, his patent didn’t attract enough attention and was abandoned a year after filing, but eventually picked up after years later and was used in the medical field.
Over the years, there have been different 3D printing methods that use lasers, powdered material, or heated plastic to build up objects. The modern-day process involves layering material such as plastic or metal to form a figure passed as a digital file. The waiting time is highly situational and can take seconds or days depending on the project size. Of course, more specialized needs such as teeth need a different material such as ceramic.
Shorter waiting time
While the shift to 3D printing teeth started quite a few years, its biggest to-date innovation was just unveiled. Dental technology company SprintRay has just introduced its new Ceramic Crown 3D printing system. It promises to deliver high-quality dental restorations in only one visit, with the workflow optimized to take less than 45 minutes. The ecosystem includes all the tools needed for chairside crown fabrication, including a breakthrough Ceramic Dominant resin that is FDA approved. The system also uses AI technology to design crowns quickly and efficiently.
The dental industry is just joining the engineering, architecture, fashion, and automotive industries in the long list of 3d printing professional users. Although we may no longer be as amazed by 3D printing as we once were, it’s important to recognize that it is still evolving and making significant improvements in our lives that we never would have imagined possible. One day, perhaps we will be even capable of 3d printing teeth at home.
Photo credits: All images shown are owned by SprintRay and were made available for press usage. The feature image has been enhanced with Adobe Firefly to match better suit the design, but no elements were added that could be misleading.