Are you missing a tooth or two? If you are, not to worry! Imagine what if dentists could recreate exact replicas of your teeth to replace the ones that are missing. Through the use of existing technologies in 3-D printing, biocomposite material, and medical imaging, it might already be possible.
At the moment, current techniques for replicating artificial teeth involve plugging an MRI into a milling machine and cutting the new tooth from a block of polymer. Not only is this supposed to be a time-consuming process, it’s apparently not all that accurate either since teeth have a complicated and unique shape, one that is quite hard to capture and replicate via the milling technique.
As it turns out scientists in Iran have figured out how to replicate teeth using a 3D printer, which is accomplished by printing layer by layer. Not only is this a more accurate method, but it could be done on the fly at the dentist’s office (assuming your dentist owns a 3D printer).
The scientists have also said that they have bigger plans for this technology, and since the printer has no problems printing solid, porous or complicated shapes, they may very well move on to printing other parts of the human body, such as bones. However it looks like they’re still trying to perfect the technology which means commercialization will only be achieved in a couple of years. Until then, for some of us, you might want to hold on to your dentures, and for the rest of us it’s probably best to keep those teeth of yours healthy and clean!
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