Insightful and informative dentist blog, covering a wide range of dental topics alongside new treatment & clinic announcements.
If you want to get veneers, normally the dentist first has to create a mould of your teeth. That mould is sent to a laboratory where a technician creates the veneer by hand. You then have to wait – often up to several weeks – before you can return to the clinic to have your veneers fitted. But advances in 3D printing technology mean that you could soon have your veneers created and fitted on the spot, and in less than an hour.
3D printing is revolutionising the health sector. It can now be used to create anything from hip replacements to prosthetics. However, the machine used to create veneers is not 3D printing in the conventional sense – which involves building an object layer by layer. Instead, the machine carves the veneers from a block, in a process more akin to computer-aided sculpture.
In order to make the veneers, a dentist first creates a scan of the patient’s teeth. Using this information, the scanner’s intelligent software then creates the optimum design for that patient’s mouth. Before hitting ‘print’, the dentist also has the option to tweak that design.
The printer carves the veneers from a small disc of zirconium – a tough, opaque material that is increasingly being used alongside porcelain. A series of narrow drill-like cutters carve out the veneers – with the finest blades recreating the grooves of a natural tooth’s surface.
Speed and convenience are not the only advantages to this method; 3D printers are highly accurate and more adept at recreating the shape and surface texture of a tooth.
At the moment, few dental clinics offer this service. But over the next decade it’s likely to become much more widespread.
At Dr Richard London Dental Clinic, we are always keen to embrace the latest and most effective treatments and we intend to offer 3D printing to our patients in the coming year.