Dental Tribune Europe

Georgio Haddad: How 3D printing has transformed dental care

By Dental Tribune International
November 12, 2020

Dentistry has come a long way since the first introduction of digital technology. In an upcoming webinar on Nov. 18, Georgio Haddad, an intrapreneur who is in charge of the development of dental strategic partnerships and initiatives at Formlabs, will talk about the adoption of 3D printing in the dental practice. Prior to his online presentation, Haddad discussed the various applications of 3D printing in dentistry, reflected on how 3D printing has reshaped the dental industry and weighed the risks associated with embracing the technology.

How has the introduction of digital dentistry facilitated the carrying out of dental procedures, and why should dental professionals consider investing in new technology?
Digital technology has changed the way we deliver dental care. With advanced imaging, case diagnoses have improved significantly, and treatments are now more predictable. With milling and 3D printing, professionals can produce extremely high-accuracy dental products in order to offer their patients the best results. As technology continues to evolve, these products are produced faster and become more cost-effective, improving the end result for the patient.

Georgio Haddad, dental strategic partnerships and initiatives lead at Formlabs, a 3D-printing technology developer and manufacturer. (Image: Georgio Haddad)

Dental professionals are lucky to be in such a dynamic field. Staying curious and investing in new technology is a must in order to keep up with the increasingly high standards of patient care.

3D printers offer an infinite number of applications. How is 3D printing used in dentistry, and what are some of the advantages of 3D printing for dentistry?
3D printing is used in many areas of dentistry. There are three basic categories:

  • Applications that would not be possible or would not make sense without 3D printing. These products cannot efficiently be made differently and include surgical guides, models for aligner thermoforming and indirect bonding trays.
  • Applications for which 3D printing improves on traditional manufacturing methods. These products can be made without 3D printing, but printing offers increased accuracy and control, and shorter delivery times. This category includes castable and pressable frameworks, temporary restorations, splints and custom trays.
  • Novel applications for which 3D printing offers a disruptive alternative. These are the real cutting-edge use cases, such as fully 3D-printed dentures and permanent restorations. They are not the most common uses, yet, but indeed some of the most exciting.

3D printing offers advantages beyond opening up new applications. Products are more accurate, turnaround time is shorter, and it allows for a more flexible and open communication between the practice and the laboratory.

3D printing is a powerful technology on its own, but the real impact comes from the people who use it
 Georgio Haddad, Formlabs

3D printing is a powerful technology on its own, but the real impact comes from the people who use it. We see new 3D-printing applications all the time, whether they are born of necessity or innovation. That is why Formlabs is committed to increasing access to powerful digital technology.

What are some of the criticisms of dental 3D printing, and do the benefits offered by using 3D printing outweigh the associated risks?
Ten years ago, the biggest problem with 3D printing was the prohibitively high cost of a printer. Luckily, with the success of manufacturers such as Formlabs in the market, printers are more affordable, more reliable and easier to use than ever before.

Now, the only risk lies in having false expectations. A 3D printer is a piece of equipment, and learning to use a desktop unit like the Form 3B is easy, but it does take some time. Those who choose to adopt digital technology should embrace the learning curve, ask for advice from their peers and seek out professional development opportunities.

Formlabs’ Form 3B printer. (Image: Formlabs Dental)

Moving forward, 3D printing needs to overcome the dental industry’s skepticism about novel printing materials and applications such as printed dentures and permanent restorations. Manufacturers like Formlabs need to be proactive about teaching experts and validating new technology in the industry in order to achieve a mindset shift. But it will eventually happen. We have already seen it many times in the dental industry. Implants, zirconia, intraoral scanners, chairside milling and many other materials and technologies overcame the initial skepticism. I am glad to be part of the movement that is leading and revolutionizing digital dentistry.

Editorial note: The Formlabs Dental webinar, titled “Revolutionizing digital dentistry with 3D printing—accessible solutions and new applications,” will be presented live on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m. EST. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the topic upon completion. Registration on the DT Study Club is free of charge.

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