Three dimensional printing is a novel fabrication technique that holds much potential for the future. It is possible that one day 3D printing will become the method of choice for producing dentures, but there are many obstacles to overcome.
In a new trial, researchers proved that 3D dentures could be better than traditional dentures. But there are reasons why the trial proves little.
How the Study Worked
In this study, the goal was to compare two sets of partial dentures: one made using traditional physical impressions and another manufactured using selective laser sintering (SLS) from 3D scans.
The two dentures were manufactured and patients wore them for alternating periods of 30 days. Their satisfaction was measured after 1, 2, and 4 weeks of wear. Overall, patients preferred the printed dentures to the traditional dentures. These dentures were considered superior in many aspects, including:
- General satisfaction
- Ability to speak
- Ability to clean
- Ability to chew
- Chewing efficiency
- Oral condition
When asked to state their preference, five of the participants chose the printed dentures, one preferred the traditional dentures, and three had no preference.
Although this is certainly a significant finding, there isn’t really a reason for 3D printing advocates to celebrate the findings.
A Small, Short Trial
Perhaps the biggest limitation of this trial is just how limited it is. With only nine subject and only allowing for 30 days of wear for each denture, we don’t learn that much about the relative quality of these dentures. All we learn is that it seems that the initial quality of the printed dentures seems comparable to traditional dentures.
Dentures are designed to be worn for years, potentially decades. Thirty days gives us little information about how well people will feel about their dentures in several years. It also doesn’t tell us how well the dentures stand up to staining, odors, wear, bite force, and bone loss. Bone loss in particular is an important consideration that we wouldn’t have seen much evidence about at the 30-day mark.
And it’s worth noting that appearance was not one of the criteria here, so we don’t know how people felt about the appearance of the dentures.
Barely Beat Traditional Dentures
Another reason that limits our enthusiasm about these results is that the laser-sintered dentures were barely better than traditional dentures. We’ve talked before about the serious limitations of traditional dentures in terms of fit and function. These new dentures got higher satisfaction ratings in many areas, but, in the end, barely more than half of people chose the new dentures over traditional dentures. That’s not a great sign.
If people are truly looking for better dentures, FOY ® Dentures are designed to provide optimal fit, function, and appearance. They are much better than traditional dentures, not only in the short term but in years to come.
To learn more about FOY ® Dentures, please contact a local FOY ® Dentures dentist today.