3D printing is not just for researchers and engineers – we are using it in dentistry! The recent boom in 3-Dimensional printing devices has endless applications in dentistry. With the invention of a technology called CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing), dentists can make crowns in a single appointment without having to use the dental laboratory as a middle man.

The tooth is first prepared, then a digital scan is taken. This digital scan is transferred to a screen where the digital crown is designed to fit the patients mouth perfectly. Then the tooth is either 3D printed or milled out of a cube of ceramic right in the office in approximately 20 minutes time. The finished product is cemented in the mouth at the same appointment – no need for a temporary, no need for 1 week wait until the finished product and no need for gooey and messy traditional impressions!

Another area of dentistry where 3D printing is used is Invisalign invisible braces. Your teeth are scanned digitally and the file is sent to a 3D printer at an Invisalign facility where the trays are printed to fit your mouth exactly. These series of trays eventually straighten your teeth.
There are still some limits to the capability and accessibility to 3D printing – for one thing it is still very expensive. As the technology becomes more widespread you can be sure that its use in dentistry will just keep growing as there are so many possibilities!