A mere decade ago, creating a custom denture printed or milled in just two hours using facial scanning technology would have sounded like science fiction. Today, it’s not only a reality, it’s becoming an integral part of the treatment process in many dental offices.
Dr. Garine says most dentists are already comfortable with the first step in creating a 3D denture.
“We are all very familiar with using our DSLR cameras and taking digital photographs; each one of us has a different set of photos that we like to produce for our patients,” says Garine.
Fortunately, learning to use many face scanning techniques isn’t much harder than taking a photograph—in many cases, it’s as simple as picking up an iPhone. “You take a series of photographs of the patient moving left to right…and it stitches them together to create the idea of that full-face scan,” says Garine of the IvoSmile and Bellus apps he uses in his practice.
With photos and face scans taken, Garine then sends the data to the laboratory his practice uses to create the blueprint for the restoration in the case of a milled denture. However, this data can also be used to create 3D printed dentures in-office—a process that slashes chair time and cost for the patient and practitioner alike.
So, how do these 3D-printed and milled dentures stack up when compared to analog dentures?
“Digital dentures are actually providing us with a better fit [and] providing our patients with a better prosthesis than doing analog dentures,” says Garine, who cites their superior hold and reproducibility as major selling points.
However, there are kinks in the process that Garine says are significant enough to give some dentists pause.