Dental specialists at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry have developed a protocol for digitally aided dental surgery. The protocol involves 3D scanning a patient’s teeth, jaw, and gums, CNC milling a set of temporary restoration teeth, and 3D printing surgical models and templates.
Losing teeth is one of the most commonly reported recurring nightmares. Nobody is quite sure why, but a trip to slumberland can make our pearly whites surprisingly wont to fall out. Unfortunately, whilst losing teeth is confined to bad dreams for most of us, it’s a reality for many others: aging, bad dental hygiene, and sporting accidents are just some of the many causes of lost teeth. Worse still, it can be difficult and costly to get a quick replacement without adequate dental care.
Wanting to replace lost teeth as quickly as possible is not a sign of vanity: Everyone deserves to show off their natural smile without having to feel embarrassed or inadequate, but there are also important physiological reasons as to why replacing a lost tooth should be done sooner rather than later. If a gap is left unfilled for a long period of time, the teeth on either side of the gap can start to move inwards and gums can become damaged. Permanent dental implants can take days or even weeks to prepare, so temporary restoration teeth are used to fill the gap for up to a month.
Given the many difficulties associated with lost teeth, it’s always exciting to hear about dental experts adopting new technologies and techniques to improve the efficiency and quality of dental implants. A group of specialists at UofL have done just that, by testing a fully digital approach to computer-guided surgery, one which utilizes 3D scanning, CNC milling, and 3D printing to produce those crucial temporary restoration teeth. In an article published in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, the researchers described their fully digital method, which they believe could someday be adopted by the dental community.
“This protocol skips a lot of steps and makes it more efficient,” said Bryan T. Harris, D.M.D., associate professor of prosthodontics at UofL and coauthor on the paper. “The patient benefits from reduced chair time, minimal surgical exposure, more efficient appointments and more predictable results.”
To test the efficiency of the 3D printing and 3D scanning protocol, the UofL team used its new method to replace two teeth for a woman at the UofL School of Dentistry’s patient clinic. The clinicians first 3D scanned the patient’s mouth to obtain all the detailed digital information required for the next steps. Traditionally, dentists would use impressions to create a physical mold of the patients teeth and gums, but 3D scanning has the advantages of being more accurate and less invasive.
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