If you haven’t been to the dentist for a while you are going to notice some big changes which can mean less pain and quicker recovery times.
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The latest innovations in 3D printing technology could change the way you visit your dentist.
Imagine getting a temporary acrylic crown printed in-house in a matter of hours, or a titanium mesh to reconstruct a bone defect.
Australians can even to test drive their smile through a new wave of ‘digital dentistry’ where 3D printed moulds of their teeth are shown before getting braces or a major surgery.
Principal dentist at Mona Vale Dental Dr Alistair Graham said there are now ‘no surprises’ for his patients once they sit in the chair.
“We digitally design and print a shell that goes over the teeth and the patient can try that on and see what they look like and make changes prior to us picking up a drill,” he said.
“We end up test driving your smile so much more than we ever would.”
How is 3D Printing used in dentistry
Dr Graham started using 3D printing and design daily in his practice four years ago after buying an in house printer and scanner.
“I’m able to digitally 3D scan and print a mould of people’s mouths so it’s now taken the place of stone models,” he said.
“We print temporary crowns, grinding splints from high impact acrylic and in orthodontics we print designs of people’s teeth so we can later make the aligners for Invisalign.”
3D printing in the treatment, planning and delivery of care in dentistry also extends to teeth implants.
Dr Gautam Herle from Myer Dental Clinic uses his printer to create a 3D guide that “takes the guesswork” out of surgery.
“By taking a 3D x-ray and measurement of the jaw, we can determine exactly where we need to place the implant away from the main nervous area,” he said.
“We print an acrylic guide that shows where the implant needs to go … so during surgery we put the drill on the guide and it gets right into the exact spot like a keyhole surgery.”
By no longer opening up the patient’s gum completely to insert an implant, the procedure is “minimally invasive and highly accurate”.
“It’s a quicker recovery time, no discomfort or swelling and the patient is back to work usually the next day,” Dr Herle said.
Dr Alistair Graham said the titanium implant can’t be printed, but the tooth connected on the implant is made from TGA approved high-impact acrylic that lasts between six to 12 months.
“We only print them as temporaries because they aren’t as hard wearing as traditional ceramics, but as the technology advances that might change in the future,” he said.
How much does 3D printing cost in a dentist appointment
Dr Graham said there are no additional costs to patients when 3D printing is used in their appointment.
“So for the patient, it would cost them the same if their procedure was done analog style so there’s no change in cost.”
Why use 3D printing in dentistry
For Dr Graham, incorporating 3D printing in his practice for more than 500 patients was a no-brainer to “get ahead of the times”.
“I could see this is the way we are going with dentistry and I do a lot of complex rehabilitation cases where I need to print models and do in depth treatment planning,” he said.
“Instead of having a laboratory print a stone model that we can’t replicate, we can now digitally store our design, do any little changes and print it out again.”
Dr Herle said 3D printing has “completely revolutionised the way he manages his patients and workflow”.
“What usually takes three to four weeks of appointments and guesstimating where things go, now surgeries and check ups are so predictable so patients are in and out quickly.”
Private health insurance and dental cover
Private health insurance dental cover is generally a form of extras cover that can be added onto your private health insurance policy. As part of your insurance plan ‘extras,’ you might have cover for preventive dental care like cleaning, plaque removal, check-ups, and small fillings.
Dental cover generally falls under two categories although exact coverage will depend on your health policy and provider:
General dental – this includes the basics like routine cleanings, fluoride treatments, X-rays and small fillings.
Major dental – this is designed to cover more involved treatments like teeth extractions, crowns, bridge, and dentures. This cover might also cover orthodontics (braces), and endodontics (root canal surgery).
With some exceptions, your private health insurance fund will cover only a portion of the cost of the most common dental procedures. The rest, which you have to pay, is often referred to as the ‘gap’.
FAQs: Major dental insurance
Why do I need dental insurance?
Dental insurance benefits people who intend to visit the dentist regularly. It helps you make routine visits to the dentist as well as pay for any major dental procedure such as root canal and dental crowns.
Why do you need private health insurance for major dental procedures?
Major dental procedures can be costly. Having a health insurance policy which covers major dental can help by assisting with some of the payments – so you don’t need to worry about paying for your treatment upfront and in full.
What are the waiting periods for major dental cover?
The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman states that major dental procedures like crowns, bridges, or orthodontics commonly incur waiting periods of up to 12 months.
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