Dentists such as Dr. Johnson of Fort Lauderdale are already using 3D printing to make new crowns, bridges, etc. But 3D printing will soon go way beyond the creation of replacement teeth. There are now scientists that are working on a 3D printed tooth made of an antimicrobial plastic, that kills bacteria responsible for tooth decay on contact. Imagine having your own teeth stay bright and white without cavities.
Now scientists and researchers working on the 3D tooth have found the bacteria fighting material they think can be used to construct the tooth. They are testing this 3D super tooth by coating it in human saliva and exposing it to bacteria that causes tooth decay. So far, the anti-bacterial tooth has killed 99% of all the bacteria, and shows no signs so far of being harmful to human cells. It also must be tested on the reaction to brushing and toothpaste.
Right now, 3D printing is capable of printing out realistic teeth, gums, and nerves in order to create lifelike models. These are just models, and not intended for trials on live patients.
Some dentists are already using 3D printing to speed the process of making and fitting a new crown, bridge or denture. In-office technology can restore your smile in hours – no more walking around for weeks with a gap in your smile or badly-fitting temporary tooth replacements. But 3D printing will soon go well beyond the simple creation of replacement teeth. One use that’s being explored now involves replacing the standard “dead” dental crown with what is essentially a living tooth.
Dental crowns are used in conjunction with root canals to save teeth that have become infected or decayed. The treatment typically involves removing the infected parts of a tooth’s internal structure – pulp, nerves and blood vessels. Over time, cut off from its nourishment, the treated tooth can become brittle and prone to breakage.
To address that problem, new research has resulted in a 3D-inspired printing process that replicates the blood vessels and nerve structure of a natural tooth. When the printed material was exposed to dental pulp cells, artificial blood vessels and a step towards being able to fully regenerate a functioning tooth.