Can 3D printing help dentists perform jaw surgeries? Yes, it can.

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According to CNA NEWS, Yuan-Qian Chen, the director from the department of dentistry-China Medical University said, 3D printing can help dentists perform jaw surgeries by building more precise treatment simulation, which can shorten the time of surgery and make patients feel more comfortable after the surgery.

Photo courtesy: 郝雪卿 June. 20, 2016 http://www.chinatimes.com/realtimenews/20160615003938-260402

Yuan-Qian Chen said that they could only build a two-dimensional simulation in the past.  As a result, the dentist must be seasoned to perform an orthodontic surgery.  Now, they can utilize three-dimensional simulation and surgical guide.  Even a less experienced dentist can pick up the skills and perform a surgery in a short period of time.     

Orthognathic surgery is an advanced surgery that can fix malocclusion, asymmetrical face, sleep apnea or other orthodontic problems that cannot be easily treated with braces.  Dentists will create treatment plans based on every patient’s CT (Computed Tomography) scans, X-rays, and dental plaster mold.

Photo courtesy: dolphin June. 15, 2016 http://www.mch-oms.tw/imgs/sur_imgs/chin_surgery/case21.jpg

In the past, when a surgery was too complex, the dentists’ skills and experience became a key.  For instance, if a dentist needed to cut off and moved the jawbones or even cut off a small part of the bone, he could only rely on the CT scans to know the bone structure. 

After the 3D printing medical research center was established, the director thought, this will change the surgery.  Dentists could know patients’ bone structures through CT scan and build a three-dimensional simulation with 3D printing technology.  Then, they could build simulating treatment plan by a software program and design surgical guide.  These technologies could help dentists perform a surgery more accurate and improve patient’s facial symmetry.    

The director also stressed that 3D printing could simulate patients’ facial position of hard and soft tissues and accurately estimate the movement of jawbone and facial contour change after surgery, while the traditional cephalometric analysis could not.  With the assistance of 3D printing, dentists could perform more accurate surgeries under shorter time and patients could benefit from the effectiveness of the surgeries.(郝雪卿,2016)


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