How orthodontic retainers made from 3D printed models fit your teeth better

Tuesday, 24 Sep 2019 Andrew Chang 271 hits Print it

How orthodontic retainers made from 3D printed models fit your teeth better

Our goal is to achieve your smile in a predictable timeframe, using proven technologies, within a caring environment. One of these technologies is 3D printing.

You may have heard about 3D printing and how it is being used in many applications.

If you have not, 3D printing is a way of making products that are otherwise difficult to make. They are also very accurate.

In this post, we look at the teeth models that are used to make orthodontic retainers. Orthodontic retainers are an important part for any teenager or adult who completes their braces or aligner treatment.

The traditional way of making these retainers uses a material called alginate. This requires that a tray is fitted inside your mouth with some gooey material for 1-2 minutes. For those of you with a strong gag reflex, this may not be pleasant experience. Alginate is a material that is unstable. In other words, its becomes less accurate over time, if not cast with plaster stone straight away.

The new way of making retainers uses a light scanner that takes a scan of your teeth in 5 minutes. There is no radiation involved as the scan uses light to create images. Universally, our patients find this more comfortable than the traditional way of taking alginate imprints of your teeth.

As you will see from the video, the 3D printed models generated from this scan are also more accurate than the plaster models obtained from alginate.

There are several benefits of this for you:

  1. The orthodontic retainers that keep your teeth straight after orthodontic treatment generally fit better and are a snug fit.
  2. The printed models are more durable during the manufacture process of the retainers. As a result, these models are given to you, such that if you ever need to have need retainers made, they can be made to your smile, when you got your braces off or completed your aligner treatment.

Are there instances where an alginate imprint is used?

If your gums are puffy, a large part of this would shrink and return to normal when you finish orthodontic treatment. In this case, if you are considering a scan, it may be best to wait 1-6 months before doing so.

An alginate imprint would then still be taken upon immediate completion of your orthodontic treatment to make an interim retainer.

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