3D printed dental aligners

Not everyone is born with straight, aligned teeth. Many people have to cope with the ordeal of metal braces in their mouth to get a straighter smile. Others can use a series if clear aligners, custom fit to their individual mouths, which can rearrange teeth over the course of a year or two. These have the advantage of being easily removed, which makes it possible to do a better job at brushing your teeth than with braces.

These aligners are fabricated on plastic molds of the patient’s teeth, which in turn are created by taking a cast of the patient’s mouth. A new approach, however, is to create a scan of the patient’s teeth, and then printing the desired mold using a 3D printer. Since a new aligner is needed every few weeks to make incremental adjustments to the teeth’s positions, a patient will need many aligners. A new 3D printer from Stratsys is designed specifically for this market. The J700 Dental 3D Printing Solution works with computer-aided design (CAD) software to make it easy to design each individual mold. The machine is capable of printing 400 aligner molds per day.

This high-volume system is designed for a digital workflow that automates as many of the steps as possible. The result is highly-individualized products for a better patient result, faster, and at a lower cost. This is just one more area in healthcare where digital technology is making a wearable device that can save money and produce better outcomes.