3D Printing is a rapidly growing technology in all sectors, and it, particularly, provides effective solutions in digital dentistry. The impact of 3D technology in digital dentistry platforms is quite huge because of the advancement of 3D printing techniques.

How 3D printing is able to revolutionize different industries and sectors?

It is all thanks to the novel inventions in the new software, 3D scanners, additive technologies, and also post-processing methods with increased efficiency and cost savings. And, 3D printing technology always makes sure to provide customized solutions to all dental problems and issues.

Few studies state that the market of 3D printing in the dentistry sector was estimated at $1.8 billion in the year 2020, and it is estimated to reach $6.5 billion by the year 2025 at a CAGR of 28.8%.

What is Digital Dentistry?

Digital dentistry refers to dental technology, which is incorporated with the computer or digital controlled components, and it is committed to providing validated and seamless end-to-end workflow. Also, the technology paves more flexible ways for proposing new solutions to meet the patient’s demands. 

Digital dentistry or sometimes referred to as digital workflow results in faster production of high-end dental products in a short duration at an affordable price. It also facilitates the production of complex dental products at a low cost and less time. 

Due to the overall benefits of digital dentistry, numerous dental professionals make use of this technology and its innovative and modern digital software. Some of the digital technologies possessed by the dental industry for providing advanced solutions to patients are listed below.

  • Digital Radiography
  • Cone-beamed computed tomography imaging (CBCT).
  • Computer-aided implant dentistry.
  • Computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing (CAD / CAM).
  • Lasers.

Main Purpose of Digital Dentistry 

3D technology is mainly preferred by a dental professional for manufacturing dental products to provide relief for traditional dental issues. Some of the products manufactured by the dental clinics and labs are listed below.

They are as follows:

  • 3D Aligners.
  • 3D Dental implants.
  • 3D Dentures.
  • Crowns and Bridges.
  • Orthodontic models.
  • 3D Printed Retainers.

3D Aligners

3D Aligners are dental devices that are used to adjust and straighten teeth; it can be first designed by capturing an impression of a patient’s dentition with the help of a 3D intraoral scanner. 

Aligners and other orthodontic appliances like braces are specially designed using 3D printing technology, and they are made in a way that they fit the mouth and meet the specific malocclusion. Checking whether it is placed in the right position can be done by gently moving the aligner into the ideal place. 

3D printing technology in the digital field is also used to create digital models of teeth. These digital models help to determine the type of misalignment and in providing the required treatment course. The 3D aligners pave a way for discrete orthodontic treatment, especially for esthetically-minded patients. With the help of 3D-printed molds and digital modeling, the dentists digitally align the teeth of the patients in consecutive order. 

The major 3D technology used in the dentistry field is Stereolithography (SLA) and Material jetting technology due to their high speed and accuracy.  Unlike traditional braces, aligners can be removed while eating or brushing teeth because of their almost invisible nature. 

With the help of 3D printing technology in the dentistry field, the whole process is done in a very short time without sacrificing the quality of the product produced. It always makes sure to produce a comfortable set of aligners.

3D Dental Implants

The 3D dental implant is the artificial replacement for teeth or the surgically inserted posts into the jawbone for fixing. The 3D printing technology used here can manufacture bone-like dental implants along with the same complex structure as the jawbone. 

Dental implants are the most successful technique and widely used method in all these years in the dental field. This method improves the precision and reduces the surgery time. With the rapid advancements in additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology, the dentist creates a digital model of the patient’s teeth, and then it is printed into a physical replacement tooth. 

  • The 3D printing technology also enables the performance of 3D dental implant simulations directly on the PC and allows the user to simulate the position of implants on two-dimensional and three-dimensional models. 
  • It also helps to identify the mandibular canal and sections of the bone model.
  • With 3D technology, viewing the three-dimensional bone model and tracing panoramic views have become easy. 
  • Calculates the bone density value.  

In Maxillofacial surgery, the 3D scanning and 3D printing technology enhance the fit and comfort aspects. They also ease the pain during dental implant surgery and make the surgery safe, efficient, and quick. In addition to that, they allow dentists to have a high degree of accuracy in 3D scans. 

In 2016, Samy Tunchel et al did a clinical study in which 82 patients were enrolled in the dental implants, including 44 males and 38 females with an age range from 26 to 67 years. Almost 110 3DP/AM titanium implants were implanted during this clinical review, and among 110 implants, 104 implants came out as successfully surviving implants.   

The major benefits of using 3D printing technology in dental implant surgery are accuracy in the size of implants, determining the location of sinuses and nerves, and determining the depth and width of bone. The three-dimensional printing model helps in creating accurate models which always provides a good fit in dental implants. 

The 3D technology used in the dentistry industry helps in creating templates and surgical drill guides for permanent dental implants, and many dentist professionals make use of these guides to improvise surgical safety. 

3D Dentures

3D Dentures are also referred to as 3D printed dentures that are created digitally by using 3D scanning and printing technology.   

As we know that losing our teeth will affect our self-confidence and courage. Solving this kind of dental issue by the traditional method consumes more time. On the other hand, 3D printing technology shortens this process and with the help of an intraoral scanner, dental professionals get an accurate digital impression of your mouth and arch for proper fitting. 

The digital denture workflow involves the following six processes. Scanning, Designing, 3D print, preparing, assembly, and finishing. 

Here, the denture base or monolithic try-in is created in fewer than 2 hours. And, the try-ins printed are very cost-effective, which is one of the major key benefits of this technology. Most importantly, the base and tooth materials are available in a variety of colors. 

Crowns and Bridges

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap. This tooth-shaped cap or dental crown is used to cover the tooth to restore the shape, strength, size and improve the tooth appearance. 3D printed dental crowns and bridge models are prepared and attached with standard self-adhesive cement.  Some of the key features of 3D printed dental crowns are resistance to wear, high longevity, and low porosity. 

Dental crowns and bridge models are manufactured with the help of 3D printing technology (i.e) with new improvements in stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP).

The creation of dental crowns and bridge models involves four processes that include scanning, digital creation of dental crowns, 3D printing dental crown models, and production of 3D printed dental crown models. 

Do you wonder why a dental crown and bridge are needed? 

Here are the few steps that clearly explain why a dental crown and bridge model is needed.

  • They are used to cover and support a tooth with a huge filling.
  • To protect a weak tooth from decay or breaking, they help in holding together the cracked parts of the tooth. 
  • Sometimes, they are needed for a cosmetic modification.
  • They also help to restore an already broken tooth.
  • Crowns are used to hold the dental bridges and also to cover the misshapen tooth or severely discolored teeth. 

Therefore, Dental crown and bridge models have been the ever-growing need in the dentistry field, and it is a great way to improvise the dental hygiene and self-improvement market.  

Orthodontic Models

The Orthodontic models are the orthodontic study models which are accurate plaster reproductions of the teeth along with their supporting soft tissues. These are the essential diagnostic records and also help in the study of occlusion and dentition.

Orthodontic study models are hand-finished, smooth, accurate, and durable, and they are clearly labeled with the specific patient’s name, age, and date. The orthodontic study models help in various modeling stages of treatments such as pre-treatment models, stage models, and post-treatment models.    

The orthodontic study models are collected by the clinicians, and it supports the diagnosis, monitor treatment, and complement the written record. They are also used in various sectors such as teaching, research, and audit. 

Main Purposes of Orthodontic Study Models

  • They permit extended observations and aids the dentist in diagnosing and analyzing the case. 
  • They are much helpful in educating the patient about their dental need and treatment plan.

3D Printed Retainers

The Retainers are usually installed or attached after braces, and the retainers provide numerous benefits for orthodontic patients. In few cases, retainers are needed without braces to push teeth back or to get fit in the right place. 

Due to this huge demand for retainers, 3D printing technology joins hands with the dental industry and has introduced 3D printed retainers. 3D printed retainers provide a comfortable phase throughout the treatment process. 

The key benefits of 3D printed retainers are the orthodontists can provide the retainers to the patient in very lesser duration; whereas, traditional impression techniques take up to three weeks to produce a customized retainer. With the help of 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing, orthodontists can manufacture a retainer for patients in less than three hours.  These 3D printed retainers are more cost-effective for patients, and also it is very affordable for dental practices. 

Dental retainers that are printed using the 3D option are very beneficial in many ways, and they can be simply removed while eating and brushing. On the other hand, traditional retainers put significant pressure on the teeth, and it can’t be removed whenever the patients feel uncomfortable. Besides, these 3D printed retainers allow patients to get nutrients including foods that are high in calcium and magnesium, and they strengthen the gums and teeth.

Major Advantages of digital dentistry

  • Digital dentistry supports dental professionals to get a clear perspective of the image that results in more diagnostic ability and fast recovery. 
  • Intraoral scanners or digital scanners offer an efficient and comfortable dental experience while compared with the conventional molded impression.  
  • The 3D printed technology in the dentistry field provides the best and customized solutions to the patients, and it helps in strengthening the teeth and gums. 
  • The digital scanners or Intraoral scanners eliminate the number of steps in making restoration and reduces the occurrence of errors. 
  • The CAD/CAM restoration technique is used mostly used for the production of high-quality restorations, and also produces a natural appearance. It can be produced in multiple shades and colors, and also in different sizes. 
  • The advancements in 3D technology or additive manufacturing are used in cosmetic dentistry procedures including inlays, dentures, and veneers.
  • The key benefits of digital dentistry are real-time prep feedback, reduced remarks, faster turnaround times, and smoother workflow.  
  • With the digital impression option in the current era, it has rapidly improved the relationship between the dentist and patients and also the patient’s experience.
  • It helps in the elimination of material inaccuracies in some of the restoration flaws. It also reduces the number of visits and avoids distasteful impressions. It saves time and money.  

Few studies state that the size of the U.S. digital dentistry is forecasted to reach $986 million in the year 2021, with the CAD/CAM material market meeting the expected faster growth experience. And, the size of the European digital dentistry market is estimated to reach €578.7 million in 2021, with the CAD/CAM material market meeting the expected highest growth experience. It is remarked that the European dentistry market is estimated to reach €1.4 billion over the forecast period in 2027 due to the COVID-19 impact.

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