3D printing is gaining widespread attention recently in the medical field. Imagine if you could have an exact replica of your jawbone, in your hands to examine, in order to plan your treatment. The benefits of having an exact copy of your jaw to plan your surgery are plentiful. The surgical planning is much easier and your treatment can be personalized to your specific needs. In our clinic, we have been using 3D printing to plan our surgeries for the past few years and the results and feedback have been nothing but spectacular.
First, let’s begin by how we get a 3D printed exact replica of your jaw and teeth. Our first step is to obtain digital data of your mouth. The patient gets an intra-oral laser scan of the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth to create a stereolithography (STL) file. The patient also has a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan done of the jaws to gain data regarding the bones.
This digital data is then uploaded in software to view three-dimensionally. The software can be used to plan and complete a digital surgical simulation. The models of the jaws can also be printed on a 3D printer to have an exact replica in your hands. These replicas are made by printing on a 3D printer which cures resin with a laser to create an exact replica of the patient’s bone and teeth.
Having these models in my hands allows me to look at the defect and plan the reconstruction much easier. It allows me to plan the surgery, and decide on an approach that works best for the patient’s specific case. This allows me to create a personalized treatment plan for the patient.
The 3D printed jaw models can be sterilized and used during the surgery to guide and shape materials such as customized and pre-shaped membranes and titanium plates. Using digital software, the amount and shape of the bone graft can be digitally determined. This digital bone graft can be made from a mold that is 3D printed, which allows a customized bone graft to be made for the patient.
The software can also be used to 3D print customized surgical guides that can be used to guide our cuts into bone or the angulation and placement of dental implants. These guides eliminate the need for the surgeon to freehand the drilling and minimize the error and risks of any dangerous anatomy. This allows for a safer and more predictable procedure, which also minimizes surgical time and the invasiveness of the treatment.
3D printed surgical models are also great for marketing and patient education. The patients are always impressed when they get to hold an exact replica of their jaw bone in their hands while I discuss their recommended procedure. To learn more about 3D printing and how it can help you please feel free to contact us.