3-D Tooth Tech

by Jimmy Akin

in Technology

Recently I was having some dental work done (some crowns put on), and I was very intrigued by the technology that they were using–so intrigued that I decided to make a mini-documentary about the process. Basically, they were using desktop manufacturing (not quite 3-D printing, but something close) to make me a new crown on the spot, using computer assisted design.

Because I can't splice videos from my iPhone (and because of YouTube's length limit), there are two videos. The first shows how the crown is physiclaly manufactured (actually, the end of the process) and the second showing how the new tooth is designed on the computer.

Check them out.

(And don't worry. There is no drilling or anything like that in the documentary. The focus is exclusively on the tech.)

(BTW, sorry if the sound is low on your system. I'm still figuring out the best way to do this. At least this time I remembered to get the aspect ratio right!)

(Not Sarek–Spock's father–or Surak–Vulcan's major philospher. But given C-3P0 and Chewbacca, we're in that loose territory.)

BTW, I want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Adam Raschke, who was an excellent documentary partner. He was very articulate and informative, and without him I couldn't have produced this kind of documentary, which was totally unscripted (making up our words as we went along), unedited (no cuts, no splices, no rearrangements), and unrehearsed (no re-takes, no walk-throughs).

Kudos to him! 

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ScottD July 21, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Having just spent 2 hours yesterday in the chair for a crown preparation I would have loved to be able to walk out with the real crown for an extra 15 minutes wait. Kudos to you and the Doc on a good off the cuff documentary. A good commercial along those lines would surely increase business for him.

Yeoman July 22, 2009 at 6:51 am

Having recently cracked a tooth in half, and then needing a crown, I’ve undergone this type of dental work. Out here in the hinterlands, this entails, of course, a period of a few weeks, as the impression needs to be taken and the permanent crown made.
My dentist told me about this type of technology, but he also told me about the cost that an in house device of this type entailed. It was shockingly high. Yes, this is nifty, but I wonder if it’s worth the cost, quite frankly.
My father was a dentist, and one of my enduring childhood memories was of him making crowns at home, at night, which he did many nights. I used to watch him do it, and loved to see it done. When I was old enough to have to go to school and line myself up for employment, becoming a dentist was something I swore I’d never do, as it’s dirty work, hard, and something that most people shy away from. Now, having my second vocation (avocation?) being something else, I really regret not having considered following my father. It’s a shock, however, to see how much things have changed.

Kathy July 22, 2009 at 10:48 am

I’ve had far too many of the impression/temporary crowns done,so I was delighted this spring to be able to have the entire process accomplished in a single visit. The cost was similar to the cost for my other crowns.

Milke Shoes July 22, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Would be nice to mill a tooth made from a big old one that is no longer needed, animal or human.
Maybe the crown could grow together with the tooth base then.

RC77 July 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

Fascinating documentary Jimmy. It helps take the edge off having dental work done.
I believe I’ll start eating Big Hunks again with no worries. Hooray for technology!

RC July 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm

These are great: my dentist near Boston uses the same system, and it’s amazing. The CAD/CAM machining system mills the crown while you lay around in the chair, the dentist installs it, and off you go. It’s all done in one visit and the results are attractive.
Bonus: since novocaine is only needed for the drilling early in the visit, the effects will be fading by the time you leave.

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