When 3D printing was first introduced to the world, most people (even industry experts) laughed at the technology and thought that it would be nothing more than a trend that soon disappeared once again. At first, this was a fair assumption given the restricted capabilities of the technology.
However, it’s fair to say that 3D printing has surprised everybody. Beyond making fun items at home, 3D printing has grown so much that it’s now used in aerospace parts manufacturing, education, and dentistry. It’s this last industry that has grabbed much attention in recent years.
Application of 3D Printing in Orthodontics
Looking at the whole dentistry industry, and this includes orthodontics, experts believe that the value of the niche will expand to over $3 billion by 2025. One reason for this is that 3D printing in the industry is growing, and companies are investing more and more in the area.
For example, one way that specialists are using 3D printing is to repair damaged teeth. Previously, dentists would have to look at problems manually and assess the damage by hand. Now, they scan the tooth with a digital wand, and this immediately creates a 3D image of the mouth. With CAD (computer-aided design) software, the specialist can design a replacement or repair before printing.
Elsewhere, orthodontists would previously ask patients to bite down on a spongy material to get an insight into their teeth, gums, and mouth shape (and positioning). Eventually, the spongy material would harden, and specialists could make a brace or another treatment. Now, the same technology allows orthodontists to scan a mouth and receive the same information…only hours (or days!) sooner.
In some cases, the dentist will even have a 3D printer to print the required treatment. While on this note, orthodontists can also print caps, crowns, dentures, bridges, and other items for treatment. Rather than patients waiting weeks for treatment, they receive it immediately (and potentially limit the damage caused in the meantime). Is this safe? Yes, the only difference between printed treatments and regular treatment is the material used.
Another way that 3D printing is changing the orthodontics industry is by printing surgical tools. Typically, this is a large expense for dentists and other professionals in the field. For instance, professionals would have to spend on expensive drill guides and other surgical tools. Now, they can print the tools required to save both time and money.
Benefits of 3D Printing in Orthodontics
First and foremost, using trusted 3D printing services in Australia allows specialists to save money. Why? For one thing, they’re no longer at the mercy of expensive laboratories. Rather than outsourcing certain tasks, they can rely on 3D printing. Rather than spending hundreds of thousands on labs and staffing, orthodontics simply need to pay for the 3D printing machine. It earns the investment back quickly and the rest is profit.
Of course, lower costs for orthodontics means that they can offer a more competitive price for customers. According to some sources, overheads reduce by as much as 80% with a 3D printer. If even a small percentage of this is passed onto customers, they are more inclined to receive orthodontic care and the oral health of the nation improves.
Even after this, the benefits extend to speed and accuracy. 3D scanning and printing allow for tailored solutions much faster than through previous methods. Patients have problems fixed sooner, and this helps their confidence in the long term.
With all of this in mind, it’s not surprising that 3D printing has been rapidly growing in the orthodontics niche, and it continues to change the industry every day.