One of the exciting developments in manufacturing is 3D printing. Every day, we learn about advancements in 3D printing that make it a more viable technology. In fact, a dentist recently advocated using 3D printing to make dentures.
The benefit of these dentures is clear: they can be made more cheaply and easily. However, they come with significant drawbacks in terms of appearance. It’s clear that 3D printing can make dentures cheaper. But can it make them better?
Cheaper and Faster Dentures
Dr. Valerie Cooper spoke about the benefits of 3D printed dentures as part of the 3DHeals conference in San Francisco on April 20. She focused on the benefits of producing 3D dentures for people who could not afford traditionally made dentures. She claimed, “Theoretically, you could do a denture for $30.”
The materials are cheaper than traditional denture materials, but it’s mostly the time difference that can make these dentures so cheap. She said that the conventional process of making dentures requires six to eight hours of a technician’s time. However, she can put in as little as 30 minutes into denture design. And then, over three hours, she can print four dentures.
There are some other benefits for patients. For example, the digital manufacturing process can be easier for people with a strong gag reflex or flabby ridge.
Limitations of Cheap and Fast Dentures
However, these cheap dentures do come with limitations. For example, the material isn’t as strong as what’s used for conventional dentures. As a result, the technology isn’t approved for permanent dentures, just temporary and “interim” dentures.
The other problem is that these cheap dentures don’t even try to look natural. In order to achieve the low price point she wanted, Dr. Cooper produced dentures that were made of all one material and color. She notes that the people she has provided with these inexpensive dentures as part of a free clinic haven’t complained.
Could 3D Printing Produce Quality Dentures?
Unfortunately, this is just another example of dentists using advances in technology to make dentures cheaper, rather than trying to make them better. This has been the drive with traditional dentures. But it doesn’t have to be the way 3D printing evolves in the future.
Although current materials used for printing dentures is weak, that isn’t likely to be the case forever. The materials used in 3D printing continue to improve alongside other available materials. We should have materials strong enough for dentures in the near future.
And we don’t have to accept that 3D dentures will all be made one color. Ceramic printing could be used to make denture teeth, which would not only make them more durable, but also more beautiful.
So, although the current technology produces poor-quality dentures, there is potential for better dentures to be made using 3D printing. Who knows, maybe one day FOY ® Dentures will be printed.
But in the meantime, FOY ® Dentures continue to be made by lab technicians with the knowledge, skill, and experience to achieve the quality we want.
If you are looking for high quality dentures made by the most skilled craftsmen, then you are looking for FOY ® Dentures. Please contact a local FOY ® Dentures dentist today for an appointment.