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SurfCT Blog with Paul Vigario

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3D Printing

A Brief History of Dental Technologies

Your routine visit to your dentist’s office is around the corner, and you’re starting to think about how the visit will go.  The tools that will be used; will you have to get an x-ray or even a small procedure? You may not realize it, but a visit to the dentist is packed with many different technologies that have not only evolved over the years, but are still changing, and will likely continue to change as time goes on.  Think back to your list visit: What were some of tools you remember your hygienist or dentist using? Handheld manual tools, ultrasonic cleaning tools, molds & X-rays? While it’s likely you’ve experienced these things during one visit or another, it’s interesting to think about where these high tech tools started.  

Toothbrushes

Something as simple as your toothbrush has gone through so many changes since it’s origination dating back to ancient China.  Fast forward to a more relevant time, the first nylon bristle toothbrush wasn’t manufactured until 1938. By 1960, electric toothbrushes were newly introduced into the market; and from there, they have seen significant changes that revolutionized the way they clean, from rotation (full or partial), to vibrating, and even a combination of both.  Today, you’ll see toothbrushes that almost act as “smart” brushes, with Bluetooth capabilities and ways to monitor brushing habits.

Dental Handpiece

Dental handpieces have been around since the early 18th century.  During those times, they were primarily used for manual drilling and extraction procedures; however, they were often hard to operate and made certain procedures rather tedious…

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Digital Scanning, 3D Printing, and Dentistry

If you’ve been to the dentist or had braces, you’re likely all too familiar with gooey mouth impressions that most patients ultimately dread.  Not only is the process unpleasant, but the final product could take up to a few weeks to come in. The good news is, the days of impressions are beginning to coming to an end.  

Now, a trip to your dentist for any type of appliance that regularly requires a mold could be completed using scanning and 3D print technology.  If you have a dental appointment for a retainer or night guard, for example, your dentist may now wave a digital wand in your mouth that scans your teeth.  Once the scan is completed, it can be converted into a digital file and e-mailed to a 3D printer. The printer is typically located in the office or a dental lab, and it prints with FDA-approved materials.  The scan gives perfect measurements of your mouth and teeth so the dental 3D printer can create an appliance that fits properly.  

3D print technology is an extremely popular and sought after solution in the dental industry; from general dentistry and orthodontics to dental implants and prosthesis.  This new technology is not only much more efficient for the dentist and patient, but it is also more affordable and better customized for the individual patient’s needs. Some of the many products that are produced via 3D printing are:

  • Dental implants
  • Dentures
  • Crowns
  • Nightguards
  • Braces
  • Aligners
  • Surgical guides

These products traditionally require multiple molds and a significant period of time before they’re ready to be taken by the patient.  There is substantial proof that the 3D dental industry will quickly expand and change how patients meet their dental needs. While many offices still use traditional practices, the efficiency, patient experience, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness of 3D printing make a good argument for some technological upgrades.  

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To continue reading please visit paulvigario.org 

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