Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Damage Control: 3D Printed Mouthguards Begin With Self-impression Kit System

ST Medical Devices

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Some of the best inventions in the world have come about due to consumers having an unpleasant or painful experience, and wondering if they could improve upon the system. This was the case as Delano Romero, CEO and Co-Founder of Damage Control, sat in the chair at the orthodontist’s office. As many tedious moments were spent holding his mouth open so that the technicians and orthodontist could perform an intra-oral scan, Romero began thinking about how to improve the digital impression process.

After enduring 45 minutes of the scanning process, Romero began asking some questions, beginning with why they didn’t just take a traditional impression and then scan that to create his orthodontic aligner. After the dental assistant explained it wasn’t possible for that process, the wheels began turning…

With his experience in the dental lab tech industry and a mind for innovation, Romero set to work on creating a way to make such a process better for his own customers seeking custom-made mouthguards.

“3D printing has evolved beyond hobbyist[s] making trinkets to practical applications used in the dental industry like manufacturing dental crowns, night guards, retainers and athletic mouthguards,” says Romero.

The Damage Control team realized that 3D printing could change their manufacturing for the better, propelling them into the future with self-sustainability in production, greater speed and affordability, and improved workflow for their office.

Romero has seen a reluctance in many dental offices to move forward with more progressive technology:

“3D intra-oral scanning [an impression done on your teeth using digital imaging] has been used by the dental community for over a decade and the acceptance rate among dentist is still at a low of ten percent,” says Romero. “It is not enough of an adoption rate to be considered mainstream among dentist[s].”

Much of the machinery (often sold to dental offices for upwards of $100K) for intra-oral scanning has been long forgotten, as it did not offer the benefits initially touted in terms of profits or usability. In using 3Shape Lab Scanning equipment and the EnvisionTEC 3D printer, which is well regarded for dental applications, Damage Control has been able to streamline creation of mouthguards by making a self-impression kit system, thereby cutting out the need for a dental appointment during the process. A customer can create their own impression, while Damage Control lab techs take care of the rest.

Dental prints created on the EnvisionTEC 3D printer. [Image: EnvisionTEC via YouTube]

“With these new technologies at Damage Control we now can digitally scan all our customers impressions, or teeth models for easy and seamless reordering,” says Romero. “Our customers still do their initial impressions from the comfort of their own home.  After we receive their impression back, we will scan the impression, 3D print their teeth models, and manufacture their custom mouthguard.  We will have their teeth digitally stored for future orders.”

Using technology from 3Shape and EnvisionTEC together has been increasingly common in dentistry, and the companies have formed partnerships focusing on dental and audiology applications. Find out more about the processes in the videos below, as well as visiting Damage Control or 3Shape. Discuss in the Damage Control forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Damage Control]

 

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