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3D Printed Dentistry

Posted on Mar 03, 2020 By Ashton Dahms, Class of 2021

On the first day of the National Leadership Conference I had the opportunity to sit on a lecture from the Assistant Professor of the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, John Ference. Dr. Ference talked about the rapid technological advancements of dentistry and how it is changing the landscape of how we practice. Since the explosion of the application of 3D printing stone study modeled casts are becoming a thing of the past, only created by dental students. What 3D printing can also provide is reduced appointments for denture patients. The technology on the intraoral scanners is becoming so accurate, denture visits can be reduced almost in half. For example, an immediate denture visit in the analog world takes about six visits from the first phase of extractions to the delivery of the immediate denture.Now, the doctor can take a scan of the oral cavity with the teeth still in, and from the scan can produce a denture that will fit like a glove upon delivery after the extractions. The patient benefits by not having to go through two appointments of extractions, and reduce the number of visits by more than half. Now the patient comes in for the scan, then the scan goes to a 3D printer which forms that denture and prints it out. Once the denture is printed, the patient can come in for the full mouth extractions then delivery of the denture in the following visit. 3D printing still has room for growth, and the scanners have limitations do them when trying to scan a mouth that is completely edentulous.With time and money spend on R&D companies will eventually get to the point where a scanner can accurately scan an edentulous patient so doctors can cut the number of visits for a final denture in half as well. With that being said, if the doctor takes an analog final impression of the edentulous patient, the scanner will scan the impression and develop an accurate denture with that, so the doctor can skip the occlusal rims, and go straight to the wax try-in stage. Some doctors that have a lot of experience with delivering 3D printed denture, will even deliver the final denture without trying it in reducing the amount of visits to three from start to finish.

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