There has been some recent coverage of a student from the New Jersey Institute of Technology who used a 3D printer and laser scanner to create plastic aligners to improve his smile. It is the equivalent of do-it-yourself Invisalign. But is this a DIY project that is worth the risk?
The advantages of at home dentistry are obvious: convenience and cost. However, there are more risks than meet the eye. Moving your teeth to straighten a few areas is more complicated than you might think. A minor change to one or two teeth can have profound affects on the teeth, jaw, and your periodontal (gum) health. An appropriate analogy may be: If you moved a few support beams in your house and didn’t move them to the correct spot, then part of the house may collapse.
What if you have a crown fall off? Can you scan the tooth and print a new crown with your 3D printer? Once again the advantages seem obvious but there is more than meets the eye to a dental crown. Some issues you may need to address before creating a new crown:
- What kind of material is appropriate for that tooth?
- What shape should it be to fit my bite?
- How do I know how well it fits to the tooth?
- What kind of cement is appropriate?
- Is there anything wrong with the tooth itself?
If you are unable to adequately trouble shoot all of the questions to the level of a dentist, then you are running a big risk you could cause some serious long term damage to your oral health.
With 3D printers becoming more popular, more and more people may try to fix their dental problems at home. But like any medical issue, it is best to talk with a professional.