What do you think of when someone mentions “3D printing”? Many people think of technology companies making sophisticated mechanical parts. The truth is that 3D printing is used across a wide range of fields, including medicine and dentistry! 3D printers aren’t as bulky or as expensive as they used to be, but they are still considered a premiere item in dentistry. So why are they useful in the dental field?
At Abdoney Orthodontics, we first use our Itero Element Intraoral Scanner to take thousands of pictures of your teeth in 3-6 minutes. Our scanner combines these pictures to create a digital file that accurately represents your teeth, gums, and palate in three-dimensional form. We then send the file from our scanner to our in-office 3D printer. Our printer forms a model of your teeth using a resin material that is incrementally hardened by thin laser beams! The result is an accurate model of your teeth that can be used for many purposes in orthodontics.
What are dental models used for in orthodontics?
Most commonly, your orthodontist uses a model of your teeth and palate to make your retainers at the end of your braces treatment. Depending on your initial bite and alignment problems, Dr. Abdoney and Dr. Cronauer will select the type of retainer that best suits you. They will then make your retainers at the office using your 3D printed model or send the digital file of your teeth to a dental lab who will make them. During treatment, an appliance may be needed to correct bite problems. These appliances are made by a dental lab with your digital scan and their own 3D printer.
Clean, comfortable experiences
Before intraoral scanners and 3D printers were used by any orthodontists, patients had to have impressions made of their teeth. These impressions used a material (alginate) that had a texture similar to fresh Play-Doh. While highly effective, taking impressions is messy business! It also posed difficulties in people who have a strong gag reflex. Abdoney Orthodontics is proud to offer our patients a neat and easy record-making process!