Why I Invested in 3D Printing

By: Dr. Julia Latham

When it comes to living in a tech-driven world, I consciously decided to jump in headfirst and add 3D printing to my practice.

How did I do it, you might ask? Well, here’s how I decided.

Deciding If You Should Invest in 3D Printing for Your Dental Practice

Assess Your Practice Needs

I started by assessing my own practice’s needs.

The ability to provide “same-day service” for my patients is of primary importance, and I realized early on that reducing the number of visits to the office is often a huge practice builder.

Deciding to Invest

My decision to adopt 3D printing came naturally when COVID-19 began to disrupt my ability to provide timely care, due to shipping and turnaround delays from laboratories.

I sought a better way to provide faster care that also optimized my practice output and increased internal efficiencies by involving dental assistants in the whole 3D workflow.

For me, the ability to print models for retainers, nightguards, diagnostic casts, and aligners was a game changer.

Narrowing it Down

When determining the right 3D printing solution, it’s important to consider such questions as:

  • What will I be printing, and how often?
  • Do I have the personnel in place to support in-house 3D printing?
  • How big or small will my 3D printing area be?

Asking these types of questions will help narrow down the available options and choose the right 3D printing solution.

What to Know About 3D Printing for Beginners

Often the biggest challenge when learning a new technology is just that – learning it.

Make sure your whole dental team completes initial training, which will help in the long run.

Even after we feel comfortable with the digital workflow, conducting regular training will help the entire dental team (not just your team lead) hone their skills.

Scheduling quarterly training with the manufacturer is a great way to achieve this.

Tips for Getting Started with 3D Printing at Your Dental Practice

1. Delegate a Team Lead

Once you’ve invested and are ready to get started, it is important to delegate a team lead (or leads) for this particular “area” of your practice.

2. Schedule Training

You’ll want to schedule training for yourself, your team leads, and the dental team (if they are available) and come equipped with questions.

3. Keep Things Running Smoothly

Ensuring a secure internet connection, adequate workspace, and proper ventilation, are just a few things that will need to be determined ahead of time.

But, don’t worry, your manufacturer can guide you along the way (especially if it’s DMG).

Be sure to pay attention to email and/or mail notices from your 3D solution provider, that will tell you things like software updates and added features.

DMG DentaMile

If “ease of use” is non-negotiable at your practice, then I encourage clinicians to consider DMG DentaMile.

It offers a complete solution to 3D printing, meaning software, hardware, and materials all integrate together, seamlessly.

With fast print speeds, ultra-fine resolution, networking capabilities, and device fabrication options, it’s an excellent solution for both novice and expert printers.

Up Next: Why Your Practice Should Utilize Digital Dental Photography

Dr. Julia Latham

Dr. Julia Latham

Dr. Latham enjoys working with people of all ages and genuinely cares about improving the oral health of her patients. Dr. Latham grew up in New Zealand and moved across the Pacific in 2001 for her undergrad at Boston University, completing her DDS from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 2011. While attending UMSoD, Dr. Latham was the recipient of the William S. Kramer Award of Excellence, inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society, and served as co-chair for the Scholars Program in Dental leadership where she led a capstone project collaborating students, faculty and community dentists to increase the efficiency and efficacy of local children’s clinic to help improve access to care. Additional honors include: the 2009 Periodontal Alumni Association Award for excellence in preventive periodontics and the 2011 American Academy of Oral Medicine Award. Dr. Latham began her dental career as a general dentist for the US Navy serving in a military dental clinic in Rota, Spain, and returned to the US to practice general dentistry with Tidewater Dental Group in Virginia Beach, VA. In 2014, Dr. Latham partnered with a successful multi-disciplined practice, Brush and Floss Dental Center in Stratford CT, where she now maintains a private practice focused in orthodontic and restorative care.