Over the last decade, 3D printing technology has revolutionized dentistry. Dental 3D printing enables the completely automated manufacturing of customized dental devices as per patient requirements. Dental 3D printing is a process wherein a light or laser polymerizes a liquid with the computer-guided precision required to produce small objects with intricate details. A dental 3D printing material is a substance that has been specifically designed in the production of final-placement dental models. The rise of 3D printing technology is revolutionizing the dentistry industry. This is due to the advancements in CAD, and enhanced imaging techniques like cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The high prevalence of oral diseases is one of the major factors responsible for expanding digital dentistry and dental 3D printing. Based on electronic health data, the digital transformation in dental medicine is recognized as one of the game-changers of the 21st century to tackle present and upcoming challenges in dental healthcare. Oral diseases pose a significant health burden across many countries, affecting nearly 3.5 billion people globally. Untreated dental caries in permanent teeth is the most common dental condition, affecting 60%-90% of school children and most adults in most industrialized nations. Moreover, periodontal diseases affect about 20-50% of the global population, making it a public health concern. Additionally, older adults are at increased risk for root caries because of an increased gingival recession that exposes root surfaces and increased use of medications that produce xerostomia; approximately 50% of persons aged older than 75 have root caries affecting at least one tooth.
With the high prevalence of oral diseases, there is growing awareness regarding oral health. This, along with rapid technological advancements, is leading towards the expansion of cosmetic procedures. The demand is high among populations aged 24–40 and 57–75. Population aged 24–40 majorly demand dental aesthetics, such as implants and veneers for a youthful appearance, while the population aged 57–75 demand dentures. The industry's shifting dynamics is largely due to patients’ choices, which have moved from mere hygiene to definite image enhancement. The introduction and application of two significant concepts, biomimetics, and biocompatibility, have set the stage for the future of the cosmetic dentistry industry. The rise in the disposable income to spend on appearance, social media, celebrity influence, and technological advancements in cosmetic dentistry such as CAD/CAM systems (Computer-Aided Design And Computer-Aided Manufacturing) are primarily responsible for the rise in cosmetic dentistry.
Previously, dentistry was mainly influenced by the process of subtractive manufacturing, also known as milling. However, it could not reproduce the complex models as it did not consider the internal structures.
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Modern CAD software is available, which uses intricate algorithmic designs and artificial intelligence to help in the modeling of any object or tissue to reproduce it as required. Apart from this, the introduction of new materials and the speed of manufacturing are the two major aspects of the development of 3D printing.
New biocompatible materials mimic the aesthetic result of ceramics, whereas several innovations in transparent flexible resins will have many dental applications. The design was one of the biggest factors hindering the adoption of 3D printing. Earlier third-party options were limited for designing, but now laboratories providing designs at reasonable fees and fully producing the clinical result are available. The software advances are also expanding the 3D printing industry in dentistry. This is further leading to the growth of the dental 3D printing materials market at CAGR of 26.7% to reach $9.86 billion by 2028, according to the Meticulous Research.