Jun 29, 2017 | By David

3D printing has now firmly established itself as a great way to make life-changing prosthetics and implants for patients in need, but what about people just looking for a little cosmetic improvement here or there? A new dental surgery program called Digital Smile Design is making use of 3D technology to enable patients to design their own smile. They can try on a 3D printed version of their new teeth before the operation goes ahead, so they can test out how they will look and see if any modifications might need to be made.

Digital Smile Design (DSD) was invented back in 2007 by Brazilian dental surgeon Christian Coachman. The pioneering technique allows dentists to create a prototype version of the real set of teeth they are planning for patients. The digital workflow initially involves a detailed 3D scan of the patient’s mouth being taken with an intraoral scanner. This 3D model is then imported into the DSD Nemo software, where the dentist and their patient can choose from a large digital library of different, more aesthetically-pleasing shapes and forms to overlap their original teeth.

 The process gives patients improved confidence in the surgery and vastly improves communication between patient and practitioner. It’s also great for diagnostics and treatment planning, allowing the dentist to choose the most effective, least invasive treatment that will fulfil the patient’s cosmetic requirements.

A desktop SLA 3D printer can then be used to make a real prototype version, based on the digital model created in the Nemo software. We've previously reported on the DFAB dental 3D printer from DWS, which is specifically designed for dental restorations and is potentially capable of building a prosthetic in under 20 minutes. The Digital Smile Design process at the state-of-the-art dental practice in the Canary Islands, Spain, run by Pablo Ramírez and his brother Alejandro, makes use of Formlabs’ Form 2 3D printer. ‘’We then place the model in a silicone index, which creates a negative of the teeth within the index,’’ says Ramirez. ‘’Then we use a thin layer of temporary acrylic to form the teeth directly in patient’s mouth.’’ Formlabs Standard Grey and White Resin is used, which prevents any layer lines showing on the teeth.

Digital videos and photos are then taken of the patient’s mouth with the model, so they can plan out what changes will be happening. Before 3D printing technology was as accessible to dentists as it is now, an analog method was used to create the model of the patient’s teeth. A dental technician would have to drop a special type of wax into a physical impression of the mouth, which could take up to 10 days to complete. Now, a patient can get a preview of their new smile within a few days of the first visit. This breaking down of the time barrier simplifies the whole workflow, allows for better planning, and saves on costs.

According to Ramirez, ‘’Digitally trained technicians and dentists are becoming the standard nowadays, and their collaboration is a must in order to achieve the best results. But even though technology has changed our daily workflow and is here to stay, the basic principles like respecting biology and treatment planning will always be crucial in dentistry.’’

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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