Let us consider the profession. Dentists come in many different forms: cosmetic dentists, prosthodontists, periodontists, orthodontists, endodontists, general practitioners, oral surgeons, implantologists, pediatric dentists, and others. It is difficult for the public to differentiate one from the other, and moreover, a general practitioner (GP) can perform most dental procedures if well trained. Let us look at it this way: when a patient goes to the hospital, he or she is directed to a specialist in the part of the body that has the problem. That specialist is usually highly trained and has the resources in his or her department to treat that part of the body. You will never see a medical GP operating on a patient’s heart or an orthopedic surgeon operating on a patient’s brain.
Like the body, the oral cavity should be seen as consisting of parts: hard tissue, soft tissue, nerves, bone, teeth, mechanics, and muscles. A myriad of problems can occur in the oral cavity. You can have biological issues such as infections, mechanical issues such as fractures or abrasions, and of course, your teeth create one of the most important things connected to our emotions: the smile. So why should we expect a GP to solve all these problems?
Apparently there are some people who’ve taken to the social media platform, TikTok, and posting videos of themselves using a fingernail file to grind down their own teeth. One girl who had a chipped tooth filed down her two front teeth so that the lengths were the same. The tooth filing-trend started gaining so much attention that dental hygiene professionals began responded in an effort to debunk them.
There’s no doubt that some of these TikTok users should leave the dental work to professionals. Although some appear to be doing it as a joke there are several who are grinding off some parts of their permanent teeth. Doing this could leave some of these social media socialites with irreparable damage and tremendous pain.
According to a recent report by market intelligence group CONTEXT, dentistry makes up over one fifth of the end market for professional polymer 3D printers (5,000 USD upwards). The accessibility of desktop machines and the resolution of resin-based technologies have earned additive a solid user base in the dental community. It’s why early on in the fight against COVID-19, we saw a UK based network of 13,000 dentists with access to 3D printers – thought to be one of the largest concentration of machines outside of the engineering sector – rally together to apply its temporarily redundant resources for the production of PPE.
So, with the dental 3D printing market poised to reach 9.5 billion USD by 2027, it’s no surprise that 3D printer manufacturers are investing heavily in this area, whether through dedicated business units or partnerships with device manufacturers.
Applications for 3D printers in the dental lab or office are extensive. “We print implant models, crown and bridge models, all that fun stuff,” Oscar Buenrostro, Model Shop, Milling & 3D Printing Supervisor for California-based dental solutions provider DenMat, recently told TCT. “We use it for pretty much every product we have in the lab.”