How Does 3D Printing Work in a Dental Office?

Advancements in the dental industry are constantly being used to meet the evolving needs of dental patients and to provide them with new services. One such innovation is 3D printing technology. The technology has been used in other industries, and an increasing number of dentists are understanding the value that it can add to the dental care they provide to their patients. While it may seem unorthodox to have such a device in a dental office, many dentists are embracing this technology to provide their patients with top quality services and product in record time while they wait in the office.

What is 3D Printing Dentistry?

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing, whereby the printer uses a laser to harden a very thin layer of resin from a liquid pool, then adds another layer on top of that, and then another layer, and so on until a 3D object has been built. The technology of 3D printing allows a dentist to create customized dental components and devices when used in combination with intra-oral scanning and CAD/CAM design software.  3D printing is currently being used to fabricate:
  • Dental models
  • Prototypes for large reconstructive cases
  • Surgical guides for dental implant placement
  • Metal alloy frameworks for partial dentures
  • Orthodontic appliances
  • Nightguards

3D Printing at Trailhead Dental

At Trailhead Dental, we use the FormLabs Form2 3D printer to create high-resolution dental models and prototypes. After obtaining detailed images from our 3Shape Trios intra-oral scanner, we use specialized software to design the desired model or mock-up. This design is sent to the printer that has been loaded with an FDA-approved tank of resin, and within a few hours, the fabrication is complete.

Because the 3D printer is able to convert digital images into physical objects, the resulting product is more accurate than if it was completed manually. You are also able to receive your implants much faster as the printer eliminates the need to wait weeks for an offsite laboratory to complete the job.

Benefits of 3D Printing in Dentistry

  • 3D printing lowers the costs of producing various dental products and improves laboratory turnaround time.
  • Conventional manufacturing techniques in dentistry often involve milling an object from a block, where >80% of the material is wasted. Additive manufacturing only uses what you need.
  • Because 3D printers are generally paired with intra-oral scanning, the entire process lends itself to a better patient experience. No more impression goop!

Contact Trailhead Dental today to see how our onsite 3D printing or any of our other implant, cosmetic, and complex reconstructive dentistry services can help you. You can call us or reach out online to schedule an appointment for yourself or a family member.

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