You may not think that technological innovation and dentistry go hand in hand, but take a minute to consider the high-precision, high-cost work being done inside your mouth — seems like the perfect place to implement cutting edge technology! So how can you benefit from revolutionary technology like 3D printing at the dentist's office? If you've been interested in getting dental veneers, 3D printed veneers might be an option for you.
Veneers are thin coverings placed over the top of a tooth to improve cosmetic appearance, correcting the look of stained, chipped, misshapen or gapped teeth. Traditionally, they've been made from composite-resin or porcelain, but now new resins and other materials (like a ceramic-filled hybrid material specifically for dental usage) are being developed for 3D printers to create long-lasting veneers, as well as replacement teeth, crowns, inlays and more.
Dental 3D printing is still fairly new but the potential benefits for patients wanting veneers are exciting to consider:
Because they're generally considered a cosmetic treatment, traditional veneers can be expensive, ranging from $800 to $2,000 per tooth. 3D printed veneers could potentially reduce that cost for patients.
3D printers and scanners can replace the current process of having to bite into messy paste when your dentist needs impressions of your teeth. It can take weeks for those impressions to be sent out to labs and for models to be returned to your dentist's office. Instead, a digital oral scanner and a 3D printer in your dentist’s office could create the "impressions" and print out an exact model of your mouth in just minutes. And the process of creating the veneer itself takes a fraction of the time through 3D printing versus the traditional method.
For you, the accuracy of a 3D printed veneer, or any dental product, is important because it reflects how comfortable the piece is going to be inside your mouth. On the flip side, your dentist wants to provide the best dental care and ensure that your veneer fits perfectly to prevent any complications. 3D printers offer an incredibly high level of precision so both you and your dentist can feel confident.
In addition to printing the veneers themselves, some dentists are going a step further and are using 3D printing during the treatment planning phase, helping to design patients' smiles ahead of time, with greater accuracy. Imagine being able to see what your smile is going to look like after dental restorations and procedures? With existing 3D printing technologies, some dentists can create an aesthetic mockup, basically a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth and allows you to see what your smile will look like after treatment, like veneers or clear aligners. This kind of treatment planning could help patients make better informed decisions, plan ahead and boost their moral.
As 3D printing technology continues to advance and become more available at the dentist, it will still be important to weigh all the pros and cons of opting for veneers, like the fact that it's a permanent procedure. After considering all the factors, you'll be well-armed to discuss the options with your dentist and make the right decisions for you — and your smile!