Engineers create prototypes before producing the final products, and architects make mock-ups before any actual construction. What would you think if dentists could show the final result of aesthetic restorations before applying treatment?
Today, state-of-the-art dental practices are pioneering Digital Smile Design, which helps patients envision their treatment before any procedure. By adopting a digital workflow and desktop stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing, they have succeeded in simplifying and speeding up the process of creating temporary models, reducing risks before the procedure, and truly putting a smile on their patients’ faces.
You can browse our article to learn more about the application’s innovative smile dentistry workflow and application of digital technologies to improve efficiency and patient experience.
What is Digital Smile Design?
Digital Smile Design is a versatile dental treatment planning tool used to enhance diagnostic vision, improve communication, and increase predictability throughout treatment.
Treatment plans are based on analysis of the patient’s facial and tooth proportions. Temporary models, photographs, and videos help practitioners understand how the mouth, teeth, gums, lips, and smile relate to facial features and emotion in action.
Ultimately, the Digital Smile Design process helps both the patient and the dentist. Patients are pleased to see the result and this gives them confidence in the treatment. This is a great communication tool. Patients are also much more likely to engage with the actual procedure when they can see the results in advance. The Digital Smile Design is also useful for diagnosis and treatment planning because using aligners it shows how much movement of the teeth is possible, allowing practitioners to choose the least invasive restorative treatment that meets the patient’s aesthetic needs.
What does the Digital Smile Design workflow look like?
The Digital Smile Design process begins with a digital scan of the patient’s tooth structure, which we take with an intraoral scanner. We then transfer the data to software, our digital library of different shapes and forms that we can use to overlap the teeth for the given aesthetic procedure.
Then we print the model. We then insert the model into a silicon index that creates the negative of the teeth in the index. We then use a thin temporary acrylic layer to create the teeth directly in the patient’s mouth. Normally, you can see lines of layers on the teeth if you look closely enough, but with the new Standard Gray and White Resin, it’s completely flawless and highly detailed.
During the appointment with the patient, we carefully place the temporary model in his mouth using the silicone index. We then take pictures and videos of the patient in motion from different angles so that they can evaluate the appearance of their teeth and future smiles, and we can make adjustments if necessary.
How digital workflow and 3D printing changed the Digital Smile Design process
Smile design is an important step that follows biological and restorative principles to analyze the aesthetic potential of a dental treatment and has been done in an analogous way for many years. You take a regular impression from the patient and send it to the dental technician by adding dental wax, drop by drop, onto the model. Getting the mock-up takes at least a week or ten days or even longer.
With the digital process, we can scan the patient at the first visit, schedule the case, and set up an appointment for a treatment plan presentation with the patient in the next few days. The final mock up model will be ready for photo or video shooting. Patients have high expectations, and for many, timing is the key factor. The digital process removes this time barrier, simplifies the workflow and saves costs.
What does the actual procedure look like?
Each case should be evaluated individually; Treatment planning with the clinical team is the first step in all dental treatments. Dentistry is moving towards minimally invasive procedures; Clear aligners for controlled movement of teeth and aesthetic restorations for final smile enhancement are very popular procedures today.
Let’s say we’re covering. In some cases, major preparation of the teeth is required before combining clear adjusters and restorative procedures. We choose the last “stop” of tooth movement to have the ideal biological and prosthetic tooth position. We then take a new digital intraoral impression, match the teeth, and match it with the design we agreed on with the patient during smile planning. We send the digital files to the dental lab, which grinds and finishes the veneers for final bonding in the patient’s mouth.
Before the procedure, we check the final restorations on dental models where 3D printing and new Dental Model Resin come into play. With the latest restorations we have, we print a model to double-check the fit. If you are doing more than one restoration, you will need a model because some minor adjustments must always be made to achieve the perfect aesthetics.