Dental care can be a challenge for everyone, even with insurance. As premiums and co-pays increase–while benefits decrease—we’re often left with difficult choices and challenges, not to mention pain, difficulty eating, and self-consciousness about a range of issues that can arise when all is not going well with the teeth.
But some of these issues can apply to other species too, it would seem. Jeanne Montenegro of Brazil has first-hand experience in facing dental issues with a pet after her dog broke off a tooth while chewing on a bone. No geriatric case either, her Labrador retriever Hanna is just a puppy at 15 months old. With permanent teeth having grown in already, this was an issue all around, with the situation not about to fix itself. The dog became depressed and increasingly hungry as she experienced pain every time she tried to eat. At a loss for what to do for the sad canine who needed to be encouraged to eat again, Montenegro enlisted veterinary help and was referred to a team of Brazilian dentists and scientists at the University in Santos, in Southeast Brazil.
Not only were the specialists able to help Hanna, but the procedure was performed at no cost since it was the first time they had ever tried something like this. The price tag on this type of service would probably run around $1500 USD. The team took on the project with enthusiasm however, certainly printing a much smaller item than usual, but just as important. Known as the ‘Animal Avengers,’ the team has had experience with helping numerous other animals too, including some we have followed previously as they created a 3D printed prosthetic for a toucan, a titanium beak for Gigi the Macaw, and even a 3D printed shell for Fred the Tortoise—just to name a few.
Making a 3D printed bionic tooth was definitely a new endeavor for the team, made up of Dr. Matheus Rabello, Dr. Paulo Miamoto, Dr. Roberto Fecchio, Cicero Moraes, Dr. Sergio Camargo, and Dr. Rodrigo Rabello, all of whom volunteer their time.
Dr. Miamoto, a forensic dentist, constructed a mold of Hanna’s upper jaw. Moraes, a 3D design specialist, created the model for the tooth to be made in metal, using both chromium and cobalt.
“The new tooth is tougher than the original one,” Moraes said. “This is the smallest object I have ever had to design for printing.”
The team scanned an identical tooth from the other side of Hanna’s mouth and were able to design the 3D implant from that, completely customizing it for the area it needed to be inserted in, offering Hanna some of the greatest benefits of 3D technology—most definitely offering patient-specific care at its best.
“Hanna’s recovery was quick and she has already resumed normal life,” said Dr. Fecchio. “However, because the replacement is an incisor that involved root canal treatment she has to be careful not to put too much pressure on the tooth.”
Hanna’s owner says that the pup is indeed back to normal, but she is not allowed to chew on those beloved rawhide bones or toys anymore—and games like tug of war are certainly out of the question. That’s a small price to pay though to have Hanna thriving again.
“I can already see Hanna is back to her usual playful self,” said Montenegro. “She is gobbling up her food and loving all the apples and carrots I can give her.”
“She was so sad and hungry before because it hurt to eat. This technique has been amazing and left her pain free.”
The tooth was made at the Renato Archer Information Technology Centre in Campinas, one of the only places in the area that is capable of 3D printing in metal. Once completed, the vets had to be meticulous in fitting the tooth due to the extremely tiny space it had to inhabit, for good.
While obviously this would not be an operation that many pet-owners could afford today, the team hopes that as they perfect procedures like this and continue to progress, one day pet care like this will be more common—especially with 3D design and printing.
‘We chose this procedure in order to test new techniques, looking towards the future,” said Dr Miamoto. “We believe that one day, this new technology will become more accessible and widely used, benefiting animals and humans in years to come.”
Do you think these sorts of procedures will indeed become common and affordable one day? Discuss over in the 3D Printed Tooth for Labrador Retriever forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Daily Mail / Images: Caters News Agency]