Recent advents in 3-D scanning and printing technology are more common in dental practices leading to reduced procedure time and increased patient convenience. Historically, if a patient were to require a dental crown, the process would take weeks and require multiple visits. Utilizing updated technology allows this to occur in one visit but there is still a steep cost and learning curve for the dentist.
Traditionally, if a patient required something like a crown, they would first sit through an uncomfortable impression, be provided a temporary, and return for the final product. This process resulted in discomfort, temporary crowns having to be replaced, and averaged two weeks for completion. 3-D technology is now able to complete this task in less than an hour total which reduces discomfort and increases patient convenience, while also increasing productive appointments for the dentist.
In place of the traditional impressions, 3-D scanning is now utilized to view and construct a digital image of the mouth for processing. Though 3-D printers can create the necessary components from the scan, more often a subtractive technology is used which grinds caps out of a block of plastic or porcelain.
Currently, the technology is still expensive and requires a fair amount of training to perform, but is becoming more common in practices and at dental schools. As the equipment improves, 3-D scanning wands are becoming more lightweight and easier to utilize. Many dentists are finding this greatly enhances their potential and are seeing a return on investment. At the same time, patients are coming to expect the technology and are opting for practices employing it.