3D printing is especially interesting to the world of medicine. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to a Transparency Market Research report the 3D printing market in the medical field will be worth 965.5 million USD in 2019. This places medicine as one of the crucial branches for 3D printing.
Professional media like to say that in the future 3D printing will be utilized to create ready-to-use organs. There’s still a long time before this happens but soon 3D printing will be commonly used in dentistry, mainly to create dentures. No wonder: this technology works best when it’s used for manufacturing one-of-a-kind items fitted to their owner. Various prostheses fit this reality perfectly, as they have to be perfectly adjusted to a unique body.
Aiding the Specialists
Dentures and artificial teeth have always been difficult to produce. The process required precision which was often beyond a human being’s abilities. In order for an artificial tooth to be created, an impression first needs to be made which forms the basis of a plaster model. Then, a wax models is made, which is substituted with acrylic – the actual denture. Dentists admit that the process is tiresome and it’s easy to make a mistake. Better solutions are being searched for. Fortunately, they are already available and are becoming more widespread.
Dentures are increasingly often created with the CAD/CAM, or computer-aided design/computer-assisted manufacture, method. Now it’s no longer necessary to create the denture by hand. The damaged tooth can be scanned to create its model. Then the model can be corrected, if needed, and can be printed using the selected material. As a result, the implant is a perfect match for the other teeth, its price is low and its ready in a few hours, not days or weeks.
Perhaps 3D printed teeth will soon be better than natural teeth. The tooth’s properties are a function of the material used, so it won’t be a problem to create highly durable dentures. One of the possible materials is Zti: a composite of zirconium and titanium. Both can be used in the human organism as implants and combining them gives you both the hardness of zirconium and the malleability of titanium. As far as durability goes, the result is impressive: strong a steel and lighter by a half.
There’s more! Scientists at the Dutch University of Groningen are planning to 3D print dentures of an anti-bacterial material. Such a tooth would destroy microbes at a molecular level. The material used to create such a tooth is composed of quaternary ammonium compounds in a polymer structure. It can eliminate bacteria responsible for tartar and tooth decay. Such teeth won’t decay and probably won’t need to be replaced.
Of course we still have to wait for all these solutions to be implemented. However, the decreasing price and increasing popularity of 3D printers suggest that the technology will soon become widespread. Every dentist will have a 3D printer at his or her disposal and if you lose a tooth, you’ll be able to get a substitute and smile widely without having to pay through the nose.