Prosthetic Dentistry: Print Your Own Teeth

Published:January 2nd, 2012

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Modern technology has made it possible to create a dental implant or replacement crown, in the one visit to the dentist’s office. Rather than waiting for weeks for your dental work to be completed, a new 3D based technology makes it possible for dentists to simply scan a patients jaw and produce the replacement within a matter of hours.

This technology, also known as rapid prototyping, is the brain child of Farid Abbaszadeh of the Islamic Azad University and Kheirollahi of the Imam Hossein University. According to these two researchers, this technology can be used to fabricate any porous or solid object, no matter how complicated the shape may be. The technology uses a 3D image to control a laser, which cures a liquid or powdered polymer into very intricate and complex shapes.

In the “International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing” mechanical engineer Hossein Kheirollahi of the Imam Hossein University explains that current technology used by dentists to convert a CT or MRI scan into an artificial component uses milling technology. The only problem with this method of fabrication is the inability of this technology to produce complex shapes like a tooth in its original shape. By contrast, 3D printing technology will curve any shape no matter how complicated, which makes perfect in the production of dental replacements.

The Iranian team in charge of the project was able to demonstrate how rapid prototyping can be used to produce dental prosthetics easily and quickly, even when dealing with complex features such as undercuts, sharp corners and overhangs.

At the moment, the technology could prove to be prohibitively expensive. But in time, 3D printing together with the more affordable cone-beam computed tomography (CBMT) imaging technology may prove to be the dominant trend in the production of dental prosthetics in the future.

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