The Exciting Future Of 3D Printing In Digital Dentistry

Why Digital Dentistry?

Here at Bridgeport Family Dental, we incorporate digital technology because we want to give our patients the best possible experience. Digital dentistry is the inclusion in dental practice of any digital or computer-based technology (as opposed to mechanical or electrical). Digital technology makes our lives faster, smarter, and safer in all kinds of ways–and we can use it to improve dental health, too. We’re excited to be on the wave of this exciting new technology! Digital dentistry, especially 3D printing, is expected to quickly grow and become a vital part of the way dental offices practice in the next decade.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is an exciting new technology that allows us to use computers to convey manufacturing information to machines that can “print” almost any three-dimensional object using whatever material is best. The benefit of 3D printing is that it helps manufacturing become more efficient and precise. 3D printing has been used to create products in a wide range of industries, from architecture to fashion. We use it in dentistry, too!

How does 3D Printing Work?

In our Bridgeport dental office, we use 3D printing to create dental crowns, onlays and inlays, and veneers for our patients. These dental restorations were traditionally created in a lab after the dentist made a physical impression of the patient’s teeth. Now, that process is made more efficient using digital technology. Because these dental restorations need to be a perfect fit for the exact shape of your tooth, 3D printing is a great option. We send a digital image of your teeth to a computer that evaluates the tooth’s dimensions in order to “print” the crown. The restoration is designed with an extremely high level of precision to match your tooth, and manufactured right here in the office, in a much shorter amount of time than it would take to send impressions of your teeth off to a lab.

How is 3D Printing Different from CEREC Technology?

CEREC technology also creates dental restorations quickly and efficiently, right here in the office. The difference between 3D printing and CEREC is that they manufacture the object in different ways: 3D printing builds an object by stacking microlayer on microlayer of its material based on instructions from digital data, whereas CEREC carves the object out of its material with the help of scanners and special software. CEREC is a very efficient and precise technology. However, because of the intricacies allowed by the micro layering involved in 3D printing, dental restorations created this way can be even more perfectly fitted to your teeth.

3D printing used to take a long time, but the technology is quickly becoming faster and faster. Within a few years, we might be able to print a new tooth for you within minutes!