Many think that 3D printing is something in the realm of science fiction, only to be experimented on in some dark laboratory creating strange objects or possibly by school age students making toys. Did you know that 3D printing is being used by Dr. Michael Scherer, DMD, MS’s dental office for real and modern purposes? We are, and we’re using it to better patient outcomes and enhance comfort during treatment!
3D printing uses a sterolithography (SLA) fabrication process where laser beams are shined through a liquid resin material, solidifying it rapidly in parts of the model that correspond to an image. Similar to how you would create an office document, using a Microsoft Word® program, a .doc file is printed to your printer resulting in a paper with ink on it. A 3D printer uses specialized programs to create a Sterolithography, or .stl file, to send to a 3D printer to create a physical object out of nothing! This additive process is truly remarkable.
3D printing technology for dentistry has been around for almost 10-15 years but why haven’t we heard about it yet? We as dentists tend to be creates of habit, doing the same procedures we have been doing the same for years, but Dr. Michael Scherer challenges himself to create experiences for patients that is cutting edge. This modern approach is for the benefit of the patient because this approach results in a faster and more comfortable procedure than the traditional approaches, with the same amount of precision!
Meet Bruce, a kind and empathetic individual who is constantly thinking about new and exciting ideas. He is a brilliant innovator and someone who is always pondering new approaches to conventional ideas. After completing his treatment, Dr. Scherer thought it would be fun to surprise Bruce with a gift: a 3D printed model of his jaw! Bruce was blown away and was amazed by how this could be done!
We talked about how I made the model, but what was even more exciting is that I told him that I did everything in my office in Sonora! No laboratory step, no having to wait 3-4 weeks to have something completed. Dr. Scherer took images from an x-ray scan of his jaw and convert it into a .stl file for 3D printing. With a few clicks of a mouse, he was able to convert an imaginary object into something tangible.
3D printing is a modern approach to dental practice but not many dentists are using this technology in their own offices. Dr. Scherer is one of only a handful of dentists throughout the world using this technology within their own offices. Using his in-office 3D printer, Dr. Scherer can print tooth models, dental implant models, and even jawbone models to help in making your complex dental care simple!