New Tech Allows Patients to 'Print their Own Teeth'

Dennis Faas's picture

A coalition of mechanical engineers in Iran are reporting that sometime in the near future, dental patients will actually be able to print off their own custom tooth prosthetics, thanks in large part to the innovations made in three-dimensional printing.

The current dental prosthetic procedure usually takes a few weeks for a dentist to take x-rays of the jaw and later, make the necessary cast for dental implants or replacement crowns that are unique to the patient's mouth.

3D Printing Drastically Cuts Waiting Time

The new innovation is currently in the testing phase of development and is said to greatly reduce waiting time.

Dentists will soon be able to make a virtual scan of the jaw, click a few buttons, send the results to a nearby 3D printer, and later allow the patient to walk away from the office with a custom prosthetic in hand. (Source:

The technology is called "rapid prototyping" and relies on three-dimensional imaging to control a laser that quickly cures powdered or liquid polymer into highly complex shapes.

According to mechanical engineers Hossein Kheirollahi of the Imam Hossein University and Farid Abbaszadeh of the Islamic Azad University, rapid prototyping can produce just about any solid, porous or complicated shape imaginable.

Rapid Prototyping: A Worthwhile Investment

When the technology is eventually commercialized, it is expected to be expensive.

Still, dentists must consider the fact that 3D printing (coupled with affordable cone-beam computed tomography) may be a worthwhile investment, since it is sure to become a staple tool used in everyday practice for years to come. (Source:

The technology could also be beneficial to other industries looking to cut down on the processing time of a number of complex moulds, including the tool-and-die industry, for example.

Those close to the project believe that it is still a few years away before it will hit the market.

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