Digital 3D Printing in Orthodontics

3D Printing in Dentistry

Many experts are now referring to 3D printing as the next ‘industrial revolution.’ 3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing, is a process that allows for the creation of a physical object by means of a three-dimensional digital model file. The object is created by laying down thin layers of material, consecutively. This revolutionary printing technology is transforming the way that prototypes and products are produced in numerous industries, one of which is the dental industry. Many dental professionals like orthodontists, pediatric dentists, and general dentists are taking advantage of digital dentistry 3D Printing. By 3D printing dental models, practices can quickly deliver custom-fit appliances that enhance patient care and satisfaction.

Using 3D Printing for Dentistry Can Improve Patient Experiences

With 3D printing, highly manual processes can be accomplished through digital dentistry. By reducing the number of manual processes, dental professionals can spend more time concentrating on providing their patients with exceptional care and a pleasant office experience. Furthermore, the use of digital dental models reduces delivery times because there is no need to ship out a model to the lab. In addition, this revolutionary technology helps streamline in-house workflow, while achieving a more accurate output. Using additive manufacturing saves time, lowers equipment costs and boosts operations, all of which provide you with an improved competitive advantage.

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Improve Patient Experiences Using 3D Printing

3D printing has many uses in dentistry, especially in orthodontics. It eliminates the manual, tedious process of creating dental impressions all while enhancing its accuracy. This gives your practice the opportunity to expand your patient base or provide exceptional care and a positive patient experience.

Since you won’t need to make impressions by hand, your practice will be more productive, and your patients more satisfied. 3D models also reduce delivery times tenfold since impressions can be made in a matter of minutes and sent to the lab using your scanner. OrthoDenco will then convert the scanned model into a high-quality, custom-made appliance. All you need to do is pick it up or have it delivered to your practice right when you need it.

Using additive manufacturing saves time, lowers equipment costs and boosts operations, all of which provide you with an improved competitive advantage.

We’ve equipped our lab with comprehensive technologies designed with your success in mind. By partnering with us, you’ll not only gain access to these technologies, but you will also benefit from our extensive expertise.

Of all areas of dentistry, 3D printing makes the biggest impact on the work of pediatric dentists. As with intra-oral scanners, 3D printing makes child patients feel more at ease.

They don’t have to sit still and cooperate to create a dental impression. They’d be scanned and presented with a 3D print of their dental arches.

Man Sitting on Dental Chair

More importantly, they get to experience the “techyness” of your practice — it’s fascinating for kids to see and touch what the insides of their mouths look like.

Parents and patients place great value on digital impressions, using a streamlined wand-like intraoral scanner instead of gooey alginate makes a world of a difference. Patients with gag-reflex, smaller mouths (very common for pediatric dentists and orthodontists), and special needs greatly benefit for 3D printing for dentistry.

The process of taking an intraoral scan is very straightforward, can take less time, and allows the dental assistant to correct any mistakes in real time which greatly reduces the need for repeat appointments for alginate impression retakes. In addition, a dental laboratory for 3D printing can repair, in most cases, any missing data from a scan which, again, reduces the need for repeat impression appointments.

3D Printing in Orthodontics – The Three Stage Process

3D printing is the last of a three stage process, without intraoral scanning technology and industry specific CAD-CAM software 3D printing in orthodontics would not happen. The confluence of these three technologies was opened a new real of possibilities in patient care a dental appliance design.

The Scanning Process

 Intraoral scanners are slowly replacing the age old process of taking alginate impressions. Even though, alginate could still be used in certain situations, the industry is rapidly adopting scanning and other digital technologies. In lay terms, an intraoral scanner takes pictures of the patient’s teeth and soft tissue and “stiches” those pictures together, in the right order, to create a digital rendition of the patient’s mouth.

We can also modify framework design and acrylic finish to enhance patient comfort while optimizing functionality features needed for the retainer’s optimal performance. Unlike other laboratories, we have 20 highly trained and experienced technicians, allowing us to provide personalized services and streamline our production and engagement process.d speed.

With a thorough understanding of each distinct case, we follow your prescriptions accurately and can deliver our products in a timely manner. Through this quality of work, we can help you foster patient compliance to make way for a successful retention process and improvement of patient referral rate.

In addition, a great variety of files can be attached to the prescription, including patient scans. The application also has integration with many office management software solutions like Dolphin. Once a paperless prescription has been created, it stays saved in the cloud indefinitely so the practice does not have to worry about storage fees or storage backups.

On the other hand, if the practice has not acquired an intraoral scanner, OrthoDenco has scanning technology that can transform stone models or alginate impression into a digital file. Once a file has been created, the process can continue with the CAD-CAM software to prepare these files to be printed or to design appliances like OrthoDenco’s Progressive Clear Aligner System (PCAS), Spring Aligners, and Tres clear retainer system.

In addition, a great variety of files can be Even though digital technology is slowly replacing alginate impressions, highly skilled dental assistants and dental practitioners are still at the core of the process and are vital for great results weather one uses alginate or an intraoral scanner. Digital technology cannot replace the years of training and anecdotal experience dental professionals and their staff have acquired, instead, digital enhances the treatment options that could be offered to a patient under the direct care and supervision of a licensed dental practitioner and her experienced team.

Designing a  Dental Appliance Using 3D Printing in Orthodontics

Once OrthoDenco receives or creates a patient’s file, the next step is to straighten and correct tooth positioning and prepare the files to be printed. 3D printing for digital dentistry takes several steps and requires dental technicians to learn about CAD-CAM technology.

While correcting tooth positioning, the technician has multiple measuring and comparative tools at her disposal. Also, if any mistakes take place or the technician wants to reverse course, a simple key stroke gets the job done.

In that sense digital has become a great tool in designing aligners as the final product is more predictable and accurate. In addition, the dental professional gets a report with every case which outlines the range of movement and amount of interproximal reduction (IPR) needed for each tooth.  Once the design stage has finished, the files are exported and prepared for 3D dental model printing.

Printing the Digital Model

The final stage of the process is to send the files to print. Once the digital files have been exported to the 3D printer’s software, the files need to be properly arranged on the printing platform. This process is of utmost importance because mistakes in file preparation or placement on the print platform can cause a print failure. Depending on the print volume, the average print job can take 4 to 8 hours so a failed print can cause a lot of delays.

Extensive Applications of Dental 3D Printing

Three technologies are used in 3D printing for dentistry. Each technology effectively cures the photoreactive liquid resin using some type of light source. During these processes, thin layers of resin create the dental model using the specific information that was previously collected from the patient, model or impression.

Biocompatible implants

Advancements in dental technology have led to biocompatible implants created using 3D printing. This new approach uses 3D printers to develop implants that resemble natural teeth in shape and structure. These implants can be seamlessly integrated into the human body and offer a range of benefits for patients.

The adaptability of 3D printing for dentistry allows you to create durable implants that look like natural teeth. This is especially important when it comes to maxillofacial implants, which are used to correct injuries and defects in the mouth and jaws. The use of 3D-printed maxillofacial implants has revolutionized dental treatments, providing patients with a reliable solution for both functional and cosmetic restoration.

These implants not only offer a high level of structural precision but also look natural, which is essential for patients’ physical and psychological well-being. Using 3D printing and biocompatible materials in dental implants represents a significant shift towards more effective and patient-centric dental solutions.

Biocompatible implants created through 3D printing utilize titanium alloys, cobalt-chrome alloys, polyether ether ketone, polyethylene, hydroxyapatite, and bioactive glass. These materials are chosen based on the intended purpose, patient requirements, compatibility with the human body, strength, corrosion resistance, and specific properties suitable for medical applications. 

Crowns and bridges

Using 3D printing in orthodontics has brought about a significant change in the way dentists craft crowns and bridges. Specialized 3D printers designed for dental work can create customized crowns and bridges that fit much better than those made using traditional methods. 

Dental professionals use unique resins that are safe in the mouth to create a perfect mold, replicating the shape and size of the patient’s teeth. This process is much more accurate than traditional methods, which can be messy and uncomfortable.

Using a detailed scan or impression of the patient’s teeth, you can create a digital blueprint (from the 3D printer) and begin your mold process. The printer uses the selected resin to create a physical model of the crown or bridge.

Using dental lab 3D printing has several advantages. It allows for a more accurate fit for the patient, which leads to better treatment outcomes. It also saves time and reduces the need for multiple visits to the dentist. 

Different resins are used in 3D printing dental prosthetics and devices. These resins are selected based on safety, durability, and aesthetics. For example, some resins make crowns and bridges, while others make clear aligners or dentures that are comfortable to wear. 

Surgical guides

3D printing in dentistry also involves creating surgical guides that help you perform complex procedures with greater precision and efficiency. Surgical guides are custom-made tools that enable you to place dental implants more accurately. 

The technology elevates the precision and efficiency of implant surgeries, offering a customized solution. This is essential when you are trying to develop surgical guides that fit the unique structure of each patient’s mouth. 

The process starts with taking detailed digital images of the patient’s teeth and jaw. With the help of specialized software, you can create a 3D virtual model of the patient’s mouth and map out the most suitable locations for implant placement. 

The benefits of 3D-printed surgical guides are diverse. Firstly, it helps in ensuring the accuracy of the surgical procedure. The guides are custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth, which helps to minimize errors during the drilling and cutting process. This is particularly important in dental implant surgeries, where precise placement is crucial for long-term success.

Moreover, 3D printing technology speeds up the process of creating surgical guides, meaning faster patient treatment times. The efficiency gained through this technology benefits both you and your patients by reducing the time spent in the chair and facilitating quicker post-surgical recovery.

Anatomical replicas

With 3D printing technology, you can create precise copies of a patient’s teeth and get a detailed model to help you better understand the patient’s unique oral anatomy. Before 3D dental model printing, dentists relied on traditional methods such as plaster models or two-dimensional images. 

The problem with these methods is that they don’t always capture all the details of the oral cavity. With 3D printing, you can now create highly accurate and personalized models. Like crowns, dentists begin their model process by taking detailed digital scans or impressions of the patient’s teeth and jaws. 

The digital files create a three-dimensional virtual model that dental professionals can manipulate and refine with specialized software to represent the patient’s oral anatomy accurately. Once the digital model is finalized and printed into a physical replica using 3D printing, this tangible replica mirrors the intricacies of the patient’s teeth, gums, and jaw structure. 

One of the benefits of using these replicas is in treatment planning. You can simulate different treatment scenarios and evaluate their effectiveness before starting any procedures. This helps you make informed decisions about the most effective and tailored interventions for your patients. These anatomical models also serve as powerful educational tools, particularly when communicating treatment plans to patients. 

Your partner in 3D printed dental appliances

For over 30 years, OrthoDenco has been a leader in high-performance 3D printing for digital dentistry.  We use cutting-edge scanners like Itero, Trios, and True Definition to develop orthodontic appliances trusted by dental industry leaders.

Book an appointment with our lab technicians to discuss your 3D printing needs.

Three CAD Software Technologies Frequently Used to Create Polymer-Based Dental Productsry Process

Three technologies are used in 3D printing for dentistry. Each technology effectively cures the photoreactive liquid resin using some type of light source. During these processes, thin layers of resin create the dental model using the specific information that was previously collected from the patient, model or impression.

Digital Light

Digital Light Processing/Projection (DLP) uses a digital projector screen. This is the same technology that is used in rear projection televisions, classrooms and cinemas. When a lamp or projector is used, the UV light is projected over a vat containing photopolymer resin. One completed slice of the CAD model is cast on the resin. The light flashes across the entire printed area at the same time to harden the object being created. Therefore, the 3D object is created much faster than is possible with other point-to-point technologies.

When a DLA 3D printer uses a laser, individual layers of the digital model are drawn onto the resin while a print bed is lowered and raised (depending on the location of the light source to the vat). Although DLP printers can be used with a variety of materials, their build volume is somewhat small.


The stereolithography (SL or SLA) procedure involves the selective exposure of a vat of photopolymer liquid resin to a laser: The resin is solidified as the laser moves from one side of the print area to the other. Inverse SLA printers are the most widely used type of 3D desktop printers. An inverse SLA’s laser shines through the clear bottom of its resin tank.

SLA creates a highly accurate model, allows for the use of a wide range of materials and offers a large build volume.

Material Jetting

The way Material Jetting 3D printers work is comparable to inkjet printing; however, photopolymers are used instead of ink. As a Material Jetting 3D printer creates the dental model, it jets layers of liquid resin onto a tray. These layers of resin are cured instantly with a UV light. While these 3D printers were extremely common in the dental industry several years ago, once SLA and DLP systems became available, Material Jetting technologies fell out of favor.

Material Jetting systems offer a high throughput; however, they also have a limited application range (due to expensive propriety materials) and a larger footprint than the DLP, and SLA systems do.

Benefits of Using Digital Models and Storing Them in OrthoDenco’s Cloud Platform

Lack of storage space is one of the problems that many practices experience and, while plaster study models have offered numerous benefits, digital models are now a viable alternative to the traditional physical models.

Once a digital model is created, it does not require physical storage; instead, the digital models are safely stored in OrthoDenco’s HIPAA compliant cloud, which makes 3D Printing for Orthodontics a very desirable option.

A woman talking to a patient

Why choose OrthoDenco

Cutting-edge 3D printed appliances

We use the latest CAD software to ensure seamless 3D printing for dental models. Once we receive or create a patient’s file, our technicians will use CAD-CAM technology to enhance tooth positioning and deliver high-precision dental appliances.

A user-friendly cloud platform

When you work with OrthoDenco for all your digital dentistry 3D printing needs, you’ll never have to worry about accessibility and storage space. All digital models are safely stored in OrthoDenco’s user-friendly and HIPAA-compliant cloud. You can easily access and organize all the files you need once they’re in our cloud platform.

Contact OrthoDenco today

Contact OrthoDenco today to speak with one of our customer care professionals and coordinate the timing of your next space maintainer case. If you wish, you can ask to speak to one of our experienced technicians and design the appliance over the phone.