Could 3D printing change dental surgery?

Cropped SingleCare logo By | June 8, 2016

3D printing is revolutionizing countless industries. Is dentistry next?

3D printing is already being used to create some amazing things, from selfies to space tools to high fashion. While these applications might not be for everyone, could 3D printing change the way we get dental care? 3D printing, which started as a largely industrial technology for manufacturing, is quickly becoming a desktop product and may affect how you receive dental care sooner than you think.

Printing surgical guides, which help increase the accuracy and effectiveness of dental implants, was once a slow and expensive process. Outsourcing the printing of these guides could take weeks and hundreds of dollars. Dentists looking to buy a printer for their office faced costs around $50,000 and additional costs based on the complexity of the procedure. All these factors combined mean that most implant procedures are done by hand, even though guides have been shown to result in better outcomes in surgeries.

Dentist and Patient Examining X-ray

[Mike Watson Images / Thinkstock]

3D printing could change all of this. The price of high quality desktop printers is now in the low thousands, which means (according to Dentristry Today) guides are $21 to $30 and the investment in a printer could pay for itself in 20 surgeries. But as 3D printing gets better, fast, and more reliable, there are even more exciting possibilities. Customized implants could be printed in-office, as you wait, along with surgical guides and even bio-realistic replicas of your jaw, to maximize the accuracy of any procedures. Some antimicrobial teeth are already being tested, and it seems this reality is years away rather than decades.

If you have more questions about dental implants, read more here, or visit us: SingleCare connects you to our network of dentists to find the best one near you with our searchable online database of practicing oral health professionals. You’ll pay for the treatments you receive, at pre-negotiated prices that insurance companies pay — with none of the complicated paperwork required.

[Main image credit: milosljubicic / Thinkstock]