The relatively new technology of 3D printing will impact the field of dentistry in three distinct ways. Here, we will discuss how this exciting development may affect these three arenas of the dental business that services senior patients, general adult dentistry patients and those needing orthodontics.
At the present time, when a dentist professional needs to fit his patient for orthodontics, an upper or lower jaw dental implant, dental crown or bridge, the office has to submit the order to an offsite lab, which is often miles away. The patient leaves the dentist office and awaits the phone call from the dentist telling him that the dental piece is in. Then, the patient has to make another appointment, possibly weeks away, to have the dental piece installed. From the time the dental office orders the piece, to the time it takes the offsite lab to manufacture it and ship, it could be several weeks or even a month from start to finish.
When the cost of 3D printers comes down to a manageable amount for dental offices to afford, this process will change. When dental offices have their own 3D printers, they will be able to print their own dental pieces, right in the back room of the dental office. This will help with two things.
First, the cost to print their own dental pieces will be much less than having to pay a dental lab to manufacture the pieces. Second, the processing time will be shortened. The dental office only needs to produce dental pieces for their own patients, not an entire network of patients from offices across the country. Even so, as stated in a recent article, more dental clinics will implement cloud technology to store any historical data for patients, regardless of location. Therefore, the dental office will be able to produce the dental item in a very short period of time compared to any off-site dental lab.
Dental labs that embrace the new 3D printing business model will be able to cut overhead costs and pass on the savings to dental offices. If dental labs can absorb the cost of a new 3D printer, they will be able to produce dental pieces faster than before, and speed up the order fulfillment process for dental offices that aren’t able to swing the cost of a privately-owned 3D printer.
When patients need orthodontics, implants, crowns or bridges, they typically have to sit still while a mold is being formed so that the dental piece will fit correctly. 3D printers, on the other hand, can create dental pieces that are based on camera images. So instead of being in the awkward position of having to sit for a mold to cure, Advance Dentistry specialists predict that patients will only need to have a digital image taken of the area. This will greatly increase the comfort level of certain patients, including children, the elderly and others.
Thanks to 3D printing, the entire industry of dentistry will change. Those dentists who embrace the change may find they can be more profitable in the future while patients can enjoy the benefits of shorter wait periods and lower costs.