3D Printing
Management & Productivity
Digital Dentistry
Blog Post

3D printing is a technology that is commonly used in aerospace, automotive, defense, art and design, and surgery. This technology has been used in dentistry for several years with varying degrees of success. However, recent developments in technology are allowing more dentists to implement digital workflows and tools such as intraoral scanners and 3D printers

According to Dental Tribune, the dental 3D printing market in the US is currently valued at $3.2 billion. This is expected to rise to $7.9 million over the next five years. For any dental treatment that requires something to fit into a patient’s mouth, it must be custom-made, and patients are likely to need multiple versions of the same mouthpiece as they progress through their treatment. Integrating 3D printing solutions into a dental practice’s workflow provides a range of benefits and helps dentists to expand their practices and streamline processes. 

Let’s look at how 3D printing can help you to transform your dental practice.

What is 3D printing in dentistry?


3D printing is an additive manufacturing process during which an object is processed by laying down successive layers of material until the finished product is formed. This process allows dentists to create dental appliances for patients in a quicker, cleaner and more cost-efficient way. 

Recently, the demand for 3D printing within dentistry has led to huge developments in technology which has made it a more accessible solution for dentists. The technology can deliver precision, accuracy and efficient workflows that traditional manual methods are unable to achieve. 

Making the move from analogue to digital dentistry: why is it important?


3D printers, along with other digital solutions are helping dentists to make the switch from analog to digital methods. As with any business, it’s important for dentists to keep up to date with current technology and practices to remain competitive. The dental industry is experiencing huge changes and those dental practices that delay adopting new technologies risk falling behind competitors. 

Digital dentistry has remained out of reach for many dentists due to complexities, but this is beginning to change. Let’s have a closer look at the history of 3D printers in dentistry and how they are developing. 

How have 3D printers developed? 


3D printing has been available within dentistry previously, but devices were not suitable for medical production methods. Printers did not have post-processing solutions in place which made 3D printing a manual and unreliable method. In addition, handling resins poses a risk to health and many printers operate with open material.  

Dentsply Sirona’s Primeprint solution is designed to solve the key issues commonly faced with 3D printing in dentistry and provide an end-to-end 3D printing solution; from file preparation to printing, washing, drying and post-processing. This allows more dentists to move from analog to digital dentistry with easy integration into existing dental workflows. These 3D printers make digital workflow a reality for more dentists along with the efficiencies and accuracies they offer. 

Why is the move to digital dentistry important? 


For any dentist looking to implement digital workflows, 3D printers can be an important tool for the following reasons: 

  • Faster with more accuracy: these solutions help to reduce the risks introduced by human factors. This allows for consistency, accuracy and precision at all stages of the workflow.
  • Greater efficiency: 3D printing reduces the manual work required in multiple workflows which results in fewer alterations and fewer patient visits. 
  • New business opportunities: switching to digital dentistry and investing in the solutions available allows practices to add further treatments and indications which can attract new patients and provide them with a full treatment plan. 
  • COVID-19 considerations: the pandemic and the additional hygiene precautions have reinforced the need for a move to digital dentistry. Digital tools increase patient safety and control cross-contamination which have become key priorities for dental practices.

Key applications of 3D printing in dentistry 


3D printing is being implemented by dentists and can provide benefits across a key range of applications. Not only does this make workflows easier for dentists, it can also help translating into more affordable and effective treatments for patients too.  


Dental splints 

Dental splints are one of the biggest applications for 3D printing. Splints are patient-specific and 3D printing allows for greater accuracy than analog methods. The accuracy of 3D printing allows dentists to offer well fitted appliances to minimize patient discomfort. Also it can be used for appliances used in cosmetic treatments. 


Dental models 

3D printed dental models allow dentists to create full arch, crown or bridge models that help dentists to plan denture restorations or other procedures. Having an accurate model of the patient’s mouth can help with diagnosis and performing surgery as well as being able to show patients exactly how treatment will be carried out and the expected results.  

Surgical guides  

Surgical guides can be produced to assist in surgical procedures and ensure that they are carried out precisely. The latter means that additions such as implants fit the patient well with the possibility to print multiple holes in more complex cases.  

The benefits of investing in a 3D printer for your dental practice 


Investing in a 3D printer and adding digital workflows to your dental practice can provide a range of benefits. We’ll have a look at these benefits in more detail below.  


Save time and cost 

Manual model making is time consuming and leaves room for human error which can result in additional patient chair time and labor. 3D printing provides a more accurate tool and automation reduces the labor time required, resulting in time and cost savings across the dental practice.  

Less time in the chair and fewer visits for patients provide dental practices with more time to see patients which results in growth for the business. Modern 3D printers are designed to be less complex so do not require a specialist technician in-house so tasks can be delegated to practice staff, leaving dentists with more time for value-adding activities.  

Producing accurate and high-quality products in-house saves on laboratory costs, as well as material and shipping costs so a 3D printer can provide substantial cost savings for dental practices. Alongside this, laboratories that implement 3D printers are better positioned to align with dental practices and provide a quicker and more efficient. 


Improve patient experience and outcomes 

Alongside improving dental workflows and saving on costs and time, one of the biggest advantages of implementing 3D printers is improved patient experience and treatment outcomes.  

3D printed oral devices are more customizable than manually produced products which means they are more accurate and provide a better fit for the patient. This translates into a more comfortable treatment plan for patients and a quicker process that requires fewer and shorter visits to the practice. It also allows for a more personalized care plan for patients.  

The time savings made by producing devices in-house means that they can be produced and fitted to the patient in a much shorter time, which can help to speed up their treatment plan and improve patient satisfaction. 


Expand treatment offering 

3D printing and other digital solutions allow dentists to upgrade and streamline a range of processes. There may also be processes that can be implemented that would not have been possible before. 3D printers allow you to create crown and bridge models, orthodontic models and surgical guides with ease in one smooth process, in a clean and safe working environment. 


Use in-house  

3D printing allows dentists to do the work that would traditionally be carried out within a dental lab or in-house. This reduces the time required for laboratories to process and ship products and the time required for adjustments to devices that do not fit properly.  

Dentsply Sirona’s Primescan is extremely user-friendly and provides a method for dental practices to store dental impressions over the long term and reproduce appliances and models when required. This makes it quick and easy to produce crowns, molds, models and bridges which can also be replicated if a replacement is required in the future.  


Simplify workflows 

3D printing is part of the digital workflow in dentistry that is becoming more and more common. These digital workflows provide a more simplified way of working by automating a number of manual tasks and allowing for delegation of tasks to practice staff who do not need to be specialists in machinery and technology.  


Work alongside other digital solutions 

Digital dentistry and the solutions that make it possible reach far beyond 3D printers. Devices such as intraoral scanners allow dentists to create digital oral impressions which can then be processed and devices produced in-house, making workflows seamless and cutting down on time taken from model to finished product.  

Alongside our Intraoral Scanners and 3D printers, our DS Core platform integrates with our solutions to allow you to automatically upload X-rays and scans to one single media library organized by patient. The platform allows you to access patient records across a number of devices both in and outside your practice. It is designed to improve communication between dentists and simplifies collaboration with specialists, partners and labs.  


Increase productivity  

Using a 3D printer can help to increase productivity within a dental practice. Surgical guides, models and splints can be produced in-house without waiting times from the laboratory. This process removes the need to go through the lengthy process of taking physical models and waiting for material drying and outsourcing time. A 3D digital impression can be taken with an intraoral scanner and the device can be printed within the practice. This allows for more devices to be produced and means that technicians and practice staff are free to work on other, more productive tasks.  

In summary 


3D printers are allowing dentists to enhance digital workflows, increase productivity within the practice and help to save time and costs on manual processes. 3D printing is being widely adopted by a number of dental practices as part of their move into digital dentistry and is helping to deliver better patient experience and improved outcomes. Dentists who make the move are likely to be more competitive and able to attract and retain patients in comparison to dentists who fail to keep up with changes in technology and ways of working.  

Dentsply Sirona’s Primeprint solution provides a simplified end-to-end 3D printing solution for dentists who are looking to integrate 3D printing into their practices and expand their treatment offering. Primeprint is simple to use and its automated post-processing function helps to reduce handling times, allows for delegation and maximizes productivity.  

Please contact a Dentsply Sirona representative to find out more about adding a 3D printer to your dental practice.  

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