dental office smile dental office smile 3D printing is revolutionizing both time and costs associated with visits to the dentist's office. (Photo: Pop Paul-Catalin / Shutterstock)

3D printer takes a bite out of time spent at the dentist

New technology enables dentists and orthodontists to quickly create oral products for patients.

When it comes to time spent with the dentist, most people will agree that less is more. From teeth cleanings to braces and everything in between, we're all eager at the end to grab our complimentary toothbrush, promise how we'll do better flossing, and then dash out the door with a sigh of relief. Thanks to the incredible technology behind 3D printing, those patients dreading long times spent at the dentist will soon not only hit that door with a whiter smile, but a wider one, too.

Stratasys, a firm that specializes in the manufacturer of 3D printers from its dual headquarters in America and Israel, has announced a new model aimed squarely at the dental profession. Called the Objet30, this compact 3D printer (about the size of a copy machine) enables dentists and orthodontic labs to quickly produce a wide array of products in-house.

Stratasys 3D printer dentalThe Stratasys Objet30 3D printer is capable of producing a wide variety of dental appliances quickly and accurately. (Photo: Stratasys)

Interested in straightening your teeth with an aligner? After a digital scan of your mouth, a dentist or orthodontist can quickly custom-print one for you. Want to see if the proposed color for a dental veneer matches the rest of your teeth? The Objet30 can print that as well, providing an opportunity to model the result. And since these models are so precise, you'll likely never have to return for a corrective procedure or adjustment.

But it's not just patients that stand to benefit. By using 3D printers, dental laboratory technicians can sidestep the traditional method of creating crowns, bridges, implants and models by hand. This saves tremendous time, reduces expenses and, believe it or not, frees up physical space. No longer do dental labs or offices have to store the molds and models of patients' teeth. Instead, they all reside in digital form and can easily be printed on demand.

"For many dental professionals, this evolution has been a long-awaited and welcome transition to a faster and labor-saving process that improves quality and precision while keeping businesses competitive," Avi Cohen, director of Global Dental for Stratasys, told the Dental Tribune.

He added: "As the industry moves closer to a complete digital workflow, dentists can now focus on more strategic tasks, while their 3D printer accelerates the development of dental solutions."

All of this time-saving technology adds up to dentists being able to help more patients and also allows you to get out of that chair more quickly and on with your day. Which, unless you're Bill Murray, is something worth smiling about.

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