3D Printed Retainers
A 24-year-old college student had the same problem, but the procedure to have his crooked teeth fixed was too expensive.
That’s why he decided to fix his own pearly whites by creating his own 3D printed retainers.
Amos Dudley is a digital design student that is about to graduate at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has always been passionate about 3D printing and decided to use this new technology to straighten his teeth.
The 3D printed retainers were based off of his design and some orthodontics texts. His idea was to create a series of dental devices known as aligners by using one of the 3D printers at the college. After studying some orthodontics texts, he was able to begin his work.
He first took some old school impressions of his teeth by using putty-like material he bought over the internet. This resulted to a plaster model.
“I pretty much read the instructions on the back of the bag,” he said.
He then went on to use a laser scanner, wherein he scanned the plaster model and converted it into a digital replica.
By utilizing 3D software and math, he was able to create models for fixing his teeth. He used the 3D printers at the college and printed a dozen of his personal retainers.
Dudley wore the retainers between one and three weeks each. When he felt that the retainers were no longer exerting pressure on his teeth, he knew when to stop wearing the retainer.
What did the experts think?
According to NPR, Dr. Richard Bloomstein, a professor of orthodontics at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, says he was both shocked and impressed. He says that, “maybe” the retainers may have worked as well as a dentist might have done it.
However, Dr Bloomstein explained that the outcome of this amateur orthodontics might have been different if Dudley had a decay or bone disease near the teeth he was trying to fix.
“I had no idea if this was going to work. It probably only worked in large part because of luck and good initial conditions,” he says.
“But if there’s an idea you have, you just have to try it out. I mean, I had the idea and I went with it, so the outcome was sort of the best I could hope for I guess.”
According to Dudley, he received hundreds of requests to create dental aligners, and an orthodontist even suggested that they go in business together. But Dudley wasn’t interested in that. Instead, he plans to work for a 3D printer manufacturer who offered him a job after hearing about his innovation.