ABS Blog

3D Printing’s Progression Into Dentistry

3D Printing has come a long way over the last few decades. As the advancements in the technology have evolved, 3D Printing is becoming increasingly more common in everyday life. It has been used to create life-saving prosthetic limbs for decades and, more recently, has become a low-cost solution to many other manufacturing processes.

Along with prosthetic limbs, manufactured parts and all sorts of knick knacks, 3D printing has also had a significant impact on dental supplies. And, when it comes to dental prosthesis, milled dentures have been the only option for dentists and their patients for nearly a century. With the advent of 3D printing, other options are now available.

History of 3D Printing

The first documented instance of 3D printing can be traced back to the early 1980s in Japan. In 1988, the first commercial rapid prototyping printer (SLA-1) was introduced by 3D Systems. The 1990s experienced a great deal of growth in the 3D Printing industry, with new companies being created and new additive manufacturing being explored. Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine 3D prints first organ for transplant – a lab-grown bladder.

credit: sculpteo.com

The 2000s ushered in open-source 3D printing processes which led to the creation of several new 3D Printers. Then, in 2008, the first commercially available 3D printer called “Darwin” is introduced to the world. Then, in 2009, the FDM patent held by Stratasys expires and the average FDM 3D printer price dropped from $10,00 to under $1,000. In the late 2010s new materials are created for printing things like tissue cartilage and all kinds of other textures. Check out this infographic on the history of 3D printing.

3D Printer Progression Into Dentistry

Although 3D printing for dental professionals began in 1971 as digital dentistry, dental 3D printing and additive manufacturing dental implants have been in development since the 1990s. That is when 3D printing began to be used for reference materials for surgeries. By 1999, advancements in the technology allowed for the construction of custom implants.

credit: dentsplysirona.com

Making the construction of custom implants required the use of an intraoral scanner (IOS). As you probably know, the IOS is used to scan the patient’s teeth, allowing for the design of exact replicas for necessary replacements. Biologically compatible implants have been in production since 2017. These technological advancements with 3D printing in dentistry has improved many aspects of the dental restoration process, including (but not limited to):

  • Decrease in chair time for patient and dentist.
  • Less appointments with patient.
  • Quicker turnaround times.
  • Easier ability to archive digital impressions for future reference.
  • More accurate restorations.
  • Improved results and patient satisfaction.
3D Printing’s Future in Dentistry
credit: ivoclar.com

Current 3D printing technologies are fully capable of delivering the significant demand for temporary, transitional, and permanent restorations (both direct and indirect), as well as appliances, and achieving the exacting clinical excellence required by the dental profession. In the future, printing teeth will be the norm and all other restorations will begin to fade away.

The immediate applications of 3D printing in dentistry include:

  • Permanent and provisional indirect restorations (crowns, onlays, inlays, bridges and permanent, custom restorations fabricated chairside.
  • Full and partial dentures with digital 3D occlusal design.
  • Surgical guides for ideal implant positioning and custom 3D printed bone grafts.
  • Orthodontic aligners printed with CBCT data and AI extrapolation of tooth movement over time.
  • Printed periodontal guides that relieve and retract gingival margins.
  • Soft tissue printing is currently in the research phase.
  • Plus, many more.

If you’re interested in purchasing a 3D printer for your lab, here is a review of many popular dental 3D printers for a good comparison.


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Dangers of Cloud-Based Lab Management

Many modern software platforms are held “in the cloud” and are known as SaaS (Software as a Service). Although this model may have some desirable advantages, such as access from any device with an internet connection and minimal hardware maintenance, there are also some serious down sides.

When you take into consideration that “the cloud” is just a trendy term for OPCs (other people’s computers), you can better understand the concerns with storing your lab’s sensitive customer data in it.

Is there really cloud "security?"
image: datacenterknowledge.com

The biggest issue with cloud services is security. That’s because you are storing your data somewhere else and you don’t have direct access to (or control over) it. Leaving this critical information in the hands of a faceless third-party could leave your business extremely vulnerable. You’ve probably heard about data breaches in some big companies that have exposed millions of their users’ sensitive information.

Recently, there have been a few serious data breaches within the healthcare industry, like that of 1.7 million Oregon Health Plan members and 134,000 UMass Chan Medical School students “enrolled in certain state programs.” Even very large, billion-dollar companies like Facebook, Twitter and T-Mobile can’t be trusted to keep your data secured. It’s not necessarily that these companies can’t protect your personal information, many of them just won’t.


Another major downside of using cloud software for your business can be connectivity. Since cloud computing typically requires a high-speed internet connection, access to your customer’s data can be interrupted for undetermined amounts of time. Sometimes this could be due to an internet disruption on your end, but it could also be due to “maintenance” on the cloud server that your data is being stored on. Many times, the maintenance disruptions to your cloud software are unannounced and extremely frustrating.

You may have recently experienced some downtime during critical business hours if you’re currently using cloud-based lab management software. (You know who you are). This can be extremely detrimental for a business who is relying solely on cloud software for scheduling new cases and billing their customers.


ABS offers an alternative to the ubiquitous cloud-based dental lab management software. Evolution is a local, server-client software, where the data is stored on your local computer. This gives you and your lab full control over your sensitive data. You own it. It’s yours. Once Evolution is installed on your machine, you will forever have access to your customers’ case info.

And, even though the software itself is local, ABS still has the ability to setup services for your customers to access their own case information through the internet. This allows data files to be transferred directly into your lab management software. Our ABS Support staff will gladly help you setup a robust lab management system with all of the bells and whistles. If you’d like to know more, please feel free to reach out to us any time.


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Military Dentists Trained To Provide Dental Care To Dogs

Man’s best friend has fought alongside soldiers since the ancient times. Military dogs take on indispensable roles like tracking, explosive detection and search and rescue. So, needless to say, those Military Working Dogs (MWDs) deserve the proper dental care needed to stay healthy.

credit: militarytimes.com

Thanks to the 60th Dental Squadron and the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, military dentists are receiving training on how to provide proper dental care to dogs. Since their teeth are their most effective weapon, it’s important that they maintain good oral health to be effective.

According to the article from dvidshub.net:

“…the partnership took shape in the form of the first-ever MWD dental health joint symposium, June 28, 2023, at UC Davis with a series of training workshops covering topics such as periodontal disease, vital pulp therapy, root canal therapy, and tooth wear.”

One major result of this unique training is the development of new military dental residents. This will impact MWD dental care knowledge across the globe. Trainees will be able to transfer their expertise into the field and conduct dental exams, perform dental procedures, and provide post-operative care for these dogs.

“The collaboration serves as an example of the power of community partnerships and their ability to drive significant positive change. The joint commitment helps to ensure the MWDs serving at Travis Air Force Base and beyond receive the dental care required to serve.”



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ABS at LMT Lab Day 2023 in Chicago

It’s that time of year again! Once again ABS will be attending LMT® LAB DAY®, just as we have every year since it started. That’s right… Atlanta Based Systems has attended every single LMT® LAB DAY® since its inception.

We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone in the Exhibit Hall at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Friday and Saturday, February 24th and 25th, 2023. Please feel free to come by and say hi as we will be at booth I-26.

We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about Evolution in-person. We can also show you any Evolution apps or features on the show floor.


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Dental Spending Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Levels

According to the Health Policy Institute (HPI), national dental expenditures increased by 11% from 2020 to 2021, ADA reports. The data suggest that the dental economy recovered quickly from the pandemic-induced slowdown in the industry.


Dental spending by private health insurance and out of pocket rose from a combined $115 billion in 2020 to $128 billion in 2021. This after the sharp decline in 2020, down from a combined $130 billion in 2019.


In the chart above, the ‘Government Programs’ category includes Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs. The ‘Other’ category includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).

Combined, these two categories make up a total of around $34 billion in 2021, up from an all-time high of approximately $31 billion in 2020.


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Data Link Viewer & Lab Monitor Integration

ABS Evolution dental lab management software gives your lab the tools to know what’s going on with any case at any time. However, sometimes you just need to inform your employees about the status of cases they are working on.

Data Link Viewer from Millet Software is a third-party application that allows your Evolution reports to run on network connected monitors throughout your dental lab. These reports can be refreshed at specified time intervals so anyone viewing the monitors can see updated information nearly real-time.


Displaying updated report information on lab monitors is just one of the many features that come with the Data Link Viewer, Evolution integration. Your lab will also have the ability to create interactive reports and visualize the data in a chart format.

For more information about Data Link Viewer and it’s capabilities, you can visit the Millet Software website or check out Ido Millet’s YouTube channel.


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Digital: Making Dentistry Remarkable

There’s no doubt that the dental industry has undergone a massive transition into digital over the last several years. I recently read an article about dentists embracing digital methods and equating that to a purple cow. This, in reference to the 2009 book by Seth Godin, means that your dental practice becomes remarkable. What’s more remarkable than a purple cow, right?


Using digital tools to manage the workflow of a dentist’s patients has many advantages. These tools have become so common that it’s possible each step in a patient’s journey could include some sort of digital technique.

Patients can schedule their appointments through a digital web portal. At their appointment, dentists take digital scans of their teeth. That information can be sent, digitally, to a lab for design and milling or to be 3D printed. Communication between the dentists, labs and patients can be managed through email or messaging apps like WhatsApp. Then, information about their case can be stored to the cloud for ease of access by all parties. All of these methods can leave a digital record of each step of the patient’s process so that any individual working on a restoration is informed.

AI (artificial intelligence) applications can be used to show the patient their expected results before any treatment. Seeing these results can inspire the patient to take action and decide to begin treatment. When a patient has the ability to actually see the outcome, they’re not so focused on the treatment.


Digital dentistry solutions can improve the patient’s experience at the dentist tremendously. It gives them ultimate transparency in the process and an accurate glimpse into what the future could hold for their mouth. Making communicating easier and treatment plans clearer not only improves the patient’s attitude toward their dentist, it also enhances the experience for them and their doctor.

Some people may even say digital dentistry makes a practice remarkable, as a purple cow would be.



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Mobile Dentistry Sites Popping Up In Workplaces

Jet Dental is a pop-up dental clinic serving workplaces across the United States. They are collaborating with Humana to make access to oral health care easier.


Jet Dental CEO, Jordan Smith, said that 82% of their patients had not been to the dentist in over two years. He believes that the inconvenience and lack of access during the pandemic created the drop in dentist visits.

Since the pandemic, the effects of delayed dental care have become more prevalent. The CDC estimates that companies lose $45 billion per year due to oral care emergencies. Preventative care is the best way to reduce these oral emergencies. In come the mobile pop-up dental clinics.

Photo Credit: jetdental.com

What better way to help patients than to bring dentists to their workplace? This makes it easy and convenient for employees and employers alike, eliminating time off of work for oral healthcare appointments. One of the best things about a Jet Dental pop-up clinic coming to your workplace is no cost. Jet Dental works directly with the dental insurance a company already provides their employees.

When you offer dental care on-site at your place of business, you are showing your employees that you care about their overall health and wellbeing. Providing oral healthcare services in such a convenient way could help prevent your staff from developing gum disease and other, more serious, oral issues.


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VETSmile Celebrates One Year of Operation

VETSmile is a pilot program that provides dental care to veterans who do not qualify for dental benefits through the VA. Since the project launched last summer, it has served more than 2,200 patients.


VETSmile connects veterans to federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and dental schools to help improve their oral health management. These dental care partners may provide discounted services to the veterans.

This graphic shows two ways VETSmile supports Veterans in accessing community-based dental care:


The Center for Care and Payment Innovation in the Veteran’s Health administrations started the VETSmile pilot program to help those veterans who don’t qualify for dental care through the VA. This program connects those veterans with community dental care partners. These partners are enthusiastic about providing world-class care for our nation’s heroes.


Thank you, VETSmile, for ensuring that our soldiers are provided with the great dental care that they deserve. CONGRATS ON ONE YEAR!


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Tiny, Shapeshifting Robots Used to Clean Teeth

How do you feel about automating the tooth cleaning process through microrobot technology? Well, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania decided that they should try. The School of Dental Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science teamed up to create a shapeshifting micro swarm of iron oxide nanoparticles that can effectively clean plaque from teeth.


This microrobot technology was developed by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Pennsylvania. The building blocks of these microrobots are iron oxide nanoparticles that possess both catalytic and magnetic activity. The researchers showed that they could use a magnetic field to manipulate the nanoparticles’ shape and direct their motion. Using this magnetic activity, the microrobots could form either bristle-like structures or elongated strings that could sweep away dental plaque from broad surfaces and in between teeth.

The catalytic activity of the microrobot nanoparticles would activate hydrogen peroxide to release free radicals to help eliminate plaque and bacteria that cause tooth decay.

This electromagnetic system is “fully programmable” and can use different variations to control the stiffness and length of bristle formations. It can also determine the speed and motion of the microrobots depending on the topography of an individual’s oral cavity. The Penn team will continue optimizing the robots’ motions and determine the best mouth-fitting device to advance the innovation to the clinic.


The team at the University of Pennsylvania describes their microrobot technology as being particularly valuable to those who lack the manual dexterity to effectively clean their own teeth. The researchers found that this system cleaned surfaces of all detectible pathogens.

Professor Michael Koo says, “We’d love to see this helping the geriatric population and people with disabilities. We believe it will disrupt current modalities and majorly advance oral health care.”


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