As things stand now, it is still too early to confidently proclaim that 3D printed artificial teeth can ever be as good as our own real teeth. That's not to say that there isn't some prominent research being undertaken to prove just that. At any rate, additive manufacturing has had a significant impact towards improving the dental industry. In particular, 3D printing seems to be none more so useful than it is in the field of orthodontics. Dental technicians are patients alike are now reaping the benefits, with 3D fabrication replacing some manual and time-consuming processes that not only make treatments more efficient but also much more affordable.

Here is a short list of dental applications improved by 3D printing:

  • Bridges
  • Crowns
  • Aligners
  • Night guards 
  • Impression trays
  • Surgical drill guides

Let’s consider two enormously popular ways of using 3D printing: surgical drill guides and aligners for correcting the bite. Then we will sum up all the arguments and make a conclusion.


How can we use 3D printing technology in the dental field?

Installation of implants, which essentially involves drilling deep holes in a jaw and putting artificial teeth inside, is quite a complicated process. Sometimes it requires from specialists outstanding skills. 3D printed surgical drill guides make this task much easier and far less traumatic.

Usually, a 3D model is designed based on a cone beam computed tomography scan. In the process of creating the model, individual features of the person’s jaw are taken into account.

Then all the tests can be done to the virtual model and then similarly to the printed version. 3D printed jaws can be used for the fitting guide to check whether it fits correctly or not. So there is no need to annoy patients with that. By the way, the guide is printed using a certified material that can be used in dentistry.

Perfect smile thanks to aligners

Aligners are solid plates made of polycarbonate that covers your teeth. If you can imagine wearing a mouthguard, then you get the idea. Aligners are one of the most prominent achievements of using 3D printing. They allowed replacing efficient but not aesthetical braces. Besides, braces usually require a lot of maintenance, as you have to spend quite a bit of time for proper cleaning. Aligners, on the other hand, can be removed at any time you wish.

How it Works

Each aligner is required to be worn for two weeks. So, if there are 15 aligners than the whole process for correcting the bite will take about 30 weeks (about 210 days).

It should be said that additive technologies are not actually used for making aligners themselves. Instead, they copy the form of 3D printed jaws. Each of them has a slightly different bite with a difference of approximately 1.75 mm. So the first jaw is almost the same as the original and the final version has the corrected bite. That means that each aligner is also a little bit different - they actually “align” your bite little by little before it is completely repaired. So how does it work? Let’s look at this process in a nutshell.

In the beginning, a precise 3D model of the jaw is made using a cone beam computed tomography. Then a technical specialist manually makes a complete 3D model of the corrected bite. The software calculates all phases (different jaws) of eventual changes. Then each 3D model of a jaw is printed, and the aligners are made.

Aligners vs. Braces

At a glance, aligners on all fronts seem to be a better solution than regular braces. But as things turned out, they are not used in particular deformities of the teeth. More importantly, sometimes an initial set of aligners made for the patient has to be replaced during the treatment. For example, when the dentist sees that the correction does not go according to plan, new aligners are made. But despite this, aligners can be considered a revolution in the world of correcting malocclusions.


3D printing is a relatively new way of doing conventional procedures in dentistry quicker, better, and generally cheaper. As many dentists confess, buying 3D printers, special software and hiring new specialists can be quite costly but at the end of the day, advantages of new technologies such as 3D printing can outweigh these costs in the long-term and help advance efficient and effective practices in the dental industry.

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