Evolving technologies and integration of digital solutions in healthcare and medical has transformed diagnosis and treatment planning from conventional 2D to advanced 3D technique. In recent years, the application of 3D technology in orthodontics has increased. Personalized orthodontic appliances are being created using 3D techniques such as CAD/CAM fabricated brackets, and customized wires.
Replicating human form more accurately than traditional techniques, 3D printing is finding wide application in dental implants and orthopedics. Moreover, with the growing demand for implants in countries with the aging population, 3D printing is used for producing complex shapes and lightweight parts that can be used in creating implants.
How 3D Technology is Transforming Orthodontics?
Enhancing treatment procedures, fast and smooth patient treatment, greater precision, and dependably superior appliances are some of the advantages of 3D printing in orthodontics. Using 3D modeling technology dentists are cutting out the need and cost to work with lab. Moreover, dentists can also use 3D technology to develop models and bridges for more complicated surgeries.
Emerging as the cost-effective and time saving method, 3D printing has led to the customization in orthodontics by providing custom 3D printed teeth, dentures, crowns, and variety of other tools for practitioners and patients. 3D printing can also accelerate manufacturing process with the help of computer aided design and manufacturing technology where a dentist can measure patient’s mouth and quickly design and print set of teeth. In addition, portion of teeth or crowns can also be custom printed using 3D technology.
Cone Beam 3D Imaging in Orthodontics
Significantly changing the diagnostic approach practiced in orthodontics, cone beam 3D imaging is highly preferred imaging procedure for comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Increasing prevalence of dental disorder is also boosting the demand for advanced imaging system such as cone beam 3D imaging. Cone beam 3D imaging has enhanced the ability to observe undistorted detail the positioning of teeth, jaw bone and important structures such as large nerve bundles and sinuses. It also offers a cross section view of teeth which is not possible using 2D technology.
In-depth information provided by cone beam 3D imaging allows more precise treatment planning. In addition, it is non-invasive, accurate and painless and the ability to see soft tissue and bone at the same time is leading to the increasing use of cone bone 3D imaging in orthodontics.
Currently, 3D imagery is not used at the primary level exam, however, in cases where further clarification is required, 3D imaging is used. Moreover, delivering more radiation as compared to conventional dental X-ray is also leading to hesitation among dentists to use 3D imagery. Meanwhile, concerns radiation exposure is greater among young patients as they are highly sensitive to radiation. Moreover, the FDA and the American Dental Association also recommend the use of cone beam 3D imaging only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment. However, numerous benefits provided by cone bone 3D imaging outweighs the risk.
Drastic Cost Reduction with 3D Technology in Orthodontics
Promising advances in dental field, 3D printing has taken world by storm. From a very long time dentistry has relied hugely on laboratories to produce bridges, dental implants, crowns, and other structures, moreover, adding a dental lab combined with skilled staff to produce dental implants results in significant investment. Compare to this, one-time cost for 3D printer is far less than running a dental lab. Depending on the type of 3D printer it can cost as low as $500 to as high as $100,000.
Moreover, the high cost of running a dental lab is also reflected in patient’s bill, however, 3D printers can lower overhead cost, while providing huge cost savings for patients.
With the increasing popularity of orthodontic treatment using clear aligners, especially among adult patients, the aim to reduce the cost of clear aligners is gaining traction. Moreover, outsourcing production of clear aligners is resulting in significant cost and time. In order to save money and offer high quality product, 3D printers are being widely adopted by orthodontists and emerging as the most cost-effective solution for clear aligners.
Apart from orthodontists using 3D printers in-house to produce a set of aligners for patients, majority of the companies including well-established and startups have started using 3D printing to manufacture customized aligners for patients at low cost.
3D Technology: Future of Orthodontics?
Digital technology continues to revolutionize the orthodontics landscape through the advent of 3D technology. Orthodontists are rapidly adopting 3D printing technology to produce orthodontic and other dental parts. Providing affordability, convenience, and customization for patients is increasing the popularity of 3D printing technology in orthodontics.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral diseases are the 4th most expensive diseases to treat in developed and developing countries. Moreover, an analysis by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), oral disease treatment including dental caries is responsible for around 5% of the total health expenditure in developed countries. This is driving the demand for advanced techniques to reduce the cost and accelerate the diagnosis and treatment, thereby, fueling the growth of 3D technology including 3D printing and 3D imaging in orthodontics.
With 3D printing custom products in orthodontics in large volumes, companies are constantly focusing on introducing materials for 3D printing dental implants and orthodontic aligners. Stability, biocompatibility, flexibility, and strength are key features that companies are looking for in materials to produce dental structures in orthodontics using 3D printing.
Biocompatible dentistry is also gaining popularity with increasing application of biocompatible materials for 3D printing orthodontic models. Companies are offering biocompatible materials for dental 3D printing. Moreover, effect of dental materials on health has been significant with rise in sensitivity and allergies to the dental materials. Hydroxyapatite and bioceramics owing to their biocompatibility are widely used in dental implants. High purity zirconia, alumina and glass bioceramic are becoming highly preferred over metal in dental implants. Companies are focusing on research and development of advanced biomaterials for 3D printing orthodontic models along with the assessment of biological performance of the advanced biomaterials.
In the past couple of years, a handful of resins have been certified by the FDA as class Ia and IIa biocompatible and ideal for dental application. Moreover, with the rise in functional resins in 3D printing for orthodontics along with the rate of improvement shows no sign of slowing down of 3D technology in orthodontics.
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