3D Printed Occlusal Splint Provides Relief in Just a Few Weeks

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In the recently published ‘Digital manufacturing of occlusal splint: from intraoral scanning to 3D printing,’ researchers explored the use of a new digital workflow for creating intraoral occlusal splints. These devices are used by dentists to treat temporomandibular disorders as they force muscles to relax, protect the teeth, and more.

As 3D technology continues to progress, so do manufacturing processes within dentistry, featuring 3D scanning, CAD technology, and 3D printers for fabrication of dental prostheses and a range of other devices.

For this case, the researchers chose to study a 44-year-old man presenting with issues in his jaw muscles. As doctors examined his masticatory system, they were unable to find any health conditions, except for pain emanating from his anterior temporalis muscles and external pterygoid muscles. It was suspected that he may have been in the habit of clenching his jaw, thus leading to the pain. The doctors decided to fit him with an intraoral occlusal splint to stop the pain and begin ‘repositioning’ the mandible.

“With the accuracy and efficiency of the digital workflow, the splint would be fabricated with digital intraoral scanners and a 3D printer,” stated the researchers.

The team used a scanner to photograph all the teeth, saving an .stl file read for 3D printing. The first scans, however, related both the lower and upper virtual models. The initial setting allowed parameters to include:

  • 40 °TMJ eminence angle
  • 10° Bennet angle
  • 40° incisal guide angle

“The bite plane was designed to be retained by the mandibular teeth, according to patient’s preference, and the maxillary teeth had a single contact with the appliance,” explained the researchers.

Splint designed on the digital casts.

A 3D ProJet MJP 3600 Dental by 3D Systems was used to 3D print the intraoral splint, with VisiJet® M3 Stoneplast acrylic resin, made for dental practices. Once inserted and evaluated, the doctors found that the intraoral occlusal splint was in need of little adjustment. The patient was to wear the splint while sleeping or while at home during the day. Pain subsided after three weeks; however, the patient was instructed to keep using the splint for another six months.

“The presented workflow allowed for a noticeable reduction of the complexity and of the total time of the laboratory procedures. Although in this case the authors sent the impression scan to the dental laboratory, the possibility of producing the same appliance in the dental clinic should be considered as 3D printers are becoming more popular within the dental office. However, chairside production could be time consuming for the dentist and the authors prefer at this time to delegate the design and the production to the dental technician more familiar with CAD software and 3D printers,” concluded the researchers.

“After centric relation was recorded with bimanual manipulation, the technique included intraoral scans of the maxillary and mandibular arches, digital registration of vertical relationship, computer-aided design of the intraoral occlusal splint and then manufactured with a multi-jet 3D printer. The presented technique allows for time efficient laboratory manufacturing, which could also be performed chair-side in the dental office. The delivered splint is accurate and precise and could be reproduced anytime if needed.”

3D printing has made huge impacts in the dental world, and has improved the quality of life for many patients from dental implants to orthodontics to new manufacturing systems. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

Splint produced with a multi-jet 3D printer and verified on the prototyped casts.

Intraoral pictures of the splint immediately after delivery

[Source / Images: ‘Digital manufacturing of occlusal splint: from intraoral scanning to 3D printing’]

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