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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 350-351

Disruptive Technologies: 3D Printing

M. D. S (Oral Medicine and Radiology), 3D Printing Consultant, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission15-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance15-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication27-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bharat M Mody
3D Printing Consultant, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaomr.jiaomr_326_21

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How to cite this article:
Mody BM. Disruptive Technologies: 3D Printing. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2021;33:350-1

How to cite this URL:
Mody BM. Disruptive Technologies: 3D Printing. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 7];33:350-1. Available from: http://www.jiaomr.in/text.asp?2021/33/4/350/333875

As we enter the end of the first quarter of this century, we are being pulled and dragged by the rising tides of technological innovations. Before we can master one technology, another or an upgrade to the new technology is already upon us. If we have to master this tide, we need to go into the flow and swim by remaining within the flow of the current. The rate of obsolescence is ever decreasing. We need to learn and relearn almost like a continuum. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality, holography, photogrammetry, three-dimensional (3D) scanning, and digital workflow are already being used worldwide and we are not even thinking of these. Our limited use of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography (USG), lasers, and of course 3Dimensional printing is bordering on being obsolete ourselves. We are definitely not patient-friendly.

3D printing technology is already here since more than a decade and there are no footprints on the Indian Dental scenario to speak off. 3D printing is a technology that uses filament, liquid, solid mini-balls of plastic, resin, metals, and many other materials. In the past few years, a range of applications in oral healthcare and healthcare, in general, has seen a tremendous spurring to even create artificial human organs.

3D printing can be useful in all the oral healthcare disciplines including forensic odontology. The advent of 3D scanning can further enhance technology usage. The idea is to create a 3D model as a replica of what normal architecture is and the changed architecture in presence of a disease. In anatomy, we had dead person's inner structures to study, useless for patient care being after the fact and everything is over. But with 3D printing, we have an exact replica of the interior of a live human being. It is seeing the unseen and a true 3D viewing better than the scan that was used to produce it.

3D-printed models are prepared from 3D scans obtained from(Cone beam computed Tomography) CBCT, CT, MRI, or 3D/4D USG scans. These scans are constructed from layer by layer scanning of the human body region and each layer is captured in a file called the DICOM file. The 3D printing process uses this folder containing individual DICOM files to create a file called STL file through a software based on photogrammetry. The STL file is then used by the software of the 3D printing machine to create a 3D model, a replica.

Normally, the 3D scans we see are either in a soft copy or on a digitally printed film. The human eye can see densities of only 0.5 to 2.0. Hence, the 3D scans obtained have to be rendered to bring all the available densities into the 0.5 to 2.0 range. This condensation or compression of the image densities causes loss of certain image details. The 3D-printed models on the other hand use raw DICOM data and can show much more details. Normally, through radiographic interpretations, we estimate the lesion diagnosis but we never “see” the bone changes except on the surgical table, but a 3D-printed model allows one to see the changes through the model.

Dentistry worldwide has already adopted and transformed its workflow through 3D printing. The entire laboratory procedures are now being made in digital formats. The advent of 3D scanning equipment has removed the necessity of taking impressions and sending them to the laboratory for preparing prostheses or orthodontic appliances and aligners. Apart from the digital workflow in prosthetics and orthodontics, these 3D-printed models can be used in every dental and medical discipline.

These 3D-printed models help in creating surgical and operatory stents as guides for precise and accurate surgery procedures. Thus for the implant, endodontic, and surgical guides these models can be used for designing. Because of their more detailed reproduction of the changes in the disease process many times diagnosis can be enhanced. 3D-printed models can show skin, fascia, muscles, organs, major blood vessels, and bone architecture in detail. It has uses in clefts, forensic odontology, educational model preparation for museums, customized appliances, presurgical planning in periodontics, and for records of models for antemortem and orthodontic models. The sky is the limit for its use from routine dentistry to highly complex surgeries, ortho-gnathic simulations, distraction osteogenesis, and maxilla-facial and mandibular reconstructions. In research, volumetric analysis, before and after changes, measurements, superimposing, and predictive analysis can be done with 3D-printed models.

This technology is based on 3D scans and is an integral part of maxillo-facial radiology. All the disruptive technologies coming into dentistry are based on OMR (Oral Medicine and Radiology) expertise. Our inertia, lack of confidence because of the purely oral diagnostician role rather than being the treatment planning physician is stagnation and detrimental to our field. Being different, breaking new paths, and not following a sheep–herd mentality is the way of the future. The future is already upon us, we need to stem this future shock.


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