Think of Dr. Melanie as your smile engineer! She’s not just in the business of straightening teeth — she’s an expert in using state-of-the-art technology to design custom smiles for her patients. One of the coolest technologies she uses at her Rancho Santa Fe and San Diego orthodontist offices? A 3D printer. It’s an invaluable tool that allows Dr. Melanie to give her patients the best, most accurate results possible and we use it whenever and wherever we can.
So what is a 3D printer and what are the uses of 3D printing in orthodontics? We’re glad you asked! Here, Dr. Melanie Orthodontics is answering all your questions about how we use 3D printing to design beautiful smiles our patients love.
What is a 3D Printer?
3D printing really is a modern technological marvel. Basically, a 3D printer creates a solid, three-dimensional object based on the specifications of a digital file. Okay, but how does a 3D printer work? It comes down to a process called “additive manufacturing.” This process builds the item by printing layer upon layer until you have a complete 3D object.
It all starts with a 3D model, either one you download or one you create yourself. When it comes to orthodontics, we use 3D modeling software to create a digital scan of your mouth. This gives us a highly detailed look at exactly what’s going on in there so we can create an accurate treatment plan. At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we use the industry gold standard: the iTero® Digital Impression System. This is the same system Invisalign uses to create its world-renowned clear aligners.
3D printers used to be an elusive technology, but they’ve since become more available across industries. Nowadays, all kinds of things are created using 3D printers, including sunglasses, tools, footwear, and, of course, orthodontic appliances.
How is 3D Printing Used in Orthodontics?
3D printing has revolutionized the orthodontic industry by giving doctors like Dr. Melanie complete control over the orthodontic process and the appliances they use to treat patients. Before 3D printing, orthodontists would have to send data about your mouth (like those digital scans we mentioned or physical impressions) away to an external lab to have your orthodontic appliance made. But now, Dr. Melanie can use her specifications to create your appliance herself, including our in-house clear aligners, retainers, and indirect bonding trays for braces.
The ability to print orthodontic appliances in-office means Dr. Melanie is in charge of every step of your treatment process from start to finish. Instead of waiting weeks for a lab to print and then ship retainers or other appliances, Dr. Melanie can do it right here in the office. The process is faster, more convenient, and much more environmentally friendly.
Finally, the innovation of 3D printing in orthodontics also allows orthodontists to create more accurate treatment plans. That’s because 3D printing gives them the highest level of control over each individual tooth’s movements. In fact, our cutting-edge 3D printer has a higher resolution than many of the printers used at commercial labs. This means better quality appliances and a perfect fit every single time.
The Benefits of 3D Printing in Orthodontics
So now that you know how 3D printing works and how it can be applied to orthodontics, you’re probably wondering what’s really in it for you. Other than seeing some super high-tech machinery in action, of course! Well, our use of 3D printers isn’t just for show. This cutting-edge technology really does improve your orthodontic treatment. Here’s how:
Ultimate Accuracy: Our 3D printer is incredibly precise, giving Dr. Melanie the utmost control as she maps out your new smile. And it goes without saying that better accuracy equals better results.
Faster Turnaround: We no longer have to wait for the lab to send us your appliance. We can print it right here in-house, meaning you get a quicker start on treatment.
Increased Flexibility: Need a total smile overhaul? Only want a minor tooth improvement? No matter how much (or how little) you want to change your smile, we can modify and print appliances with greater flexibility thanks to our 3D printer.
Improved Comfort: The better your aligners fit, the more comfortable they’ll be! Since our home-printed appliances are as accurate as possible, our patients experience less discomfort.
Better Results: As we’ve mentioned, 3D printing allows us to create the most accurate treatment plan for your smile. That means you’ll be left with the very best results: a beautiful smile you’re proud to show off.
Curious about how 3D printing can improve your smile outcomes? Ready to start your own smile journey? Contact Dr. Melanie Orthodontics today to book your complimentary consultation.