One evening before bed, my son asked me if I would buy a 3D printer. To his surprise, I informed him I already use a 3D printer at my practice.
He then asked if my printer was capable of printing food, to which I explained it would be really hard. He responded, “I was hoping it would be a piece of cake.” Though my son’s expectations were met with slight disappointment, it is nothing short of a modern miracle how the advancements in 3D technology achieve incredible outcomes in dentistry.
Here are a few examples of how the evolution of 3D has propelled dentistry into the future and beyond.
When I consider how 3D technology improves dental care, the first expression that comes to mind is convenience. First, the days of uncomfortable impressions using a mouthful of goop and bulky trays are a distant memory with digital impressions. CAD/CAM technology allows light scanners to create precise images of the entire mouth and communicate with additional equipment like 3D printers or mills that create dental models and restorations. The accuracy of these models and restorations provides for a more reliable and better custom fit. In addition, it often reduces the time to receive restorative care, often within the same day. Furthermore, utilizing digital scanning and software can help predict the outcome of cosmetic procedures like crowns or veneers and orthodontic care for both traditional orthodontics and aligners like Invisalign.
Another advantage of 3D technology is its ability to provide data for a more accurate diagnosis and predictable treatment. Cone beam radiographs allow a three-dimensional view of head and neck structure and detailed depictions of the teeth, bone, and root structures. These 3D images give the dentist the ability to preplan procedures like implants or root canals prior to the actual treatment to ensure a reliable result.
With the immense development of 3D technology in dentistry, it is difficult to imagine dental care without it. Only time will tell how far the seemingly endless possibilities will be grasped through its evolution. I know how much I appreciate its use. Talk to your dentist about how it may be used to improve your overall dental care.
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