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Researchers suggest their 3D-printed veneers are the future

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Additive manufacturing could replace traditional heat press and milling techniques and enable chairside veneer restorations according to researchers. (Image: Dental Veneers/Shutterstock)

MOSCOW, Russia: Researchers from Austria, Germany and Russia have collaborated in successfully using lithography-based ceramic manufacturing (LCM), a form of additive manufacturing, to create ceramic veneers, and they believe the process is an even better solution for dentistry than the existing methods of heat pressing or milling. According to the team, the thin ceramic no-preparation veneers produced during the course of the study effectively demonstrate that 3D printing can be the ideal way to produce chairside lithium disilicate restorations.

Previous studies have attempted additive manufacturing for creating veneers but often ran into a significant increase in the time required during the post-processing phase of the ceramic materials used. In the present study, the team used DentalCAD to design six classic veneers which were printed with a CeraFab System S65 Medical printer utilising digital light processing technology. After post-processing and firing in a furnace, the team used a Programat CS3 for final sintering. Though patient scans were utilised to develop the veneers and to assess their fit and function within the mouth, the team did not cement the LCM-printed restorations as they are not yet an approved option for definitive restorations. The team also produced no-preparation veneers in a similar manner.

The results in both cases corresponded to those produced with heat-press and milling techniques, including accurate marginal adaptation. Though not cemented, the researchers concluded the case was proof of concept.

The team explained their decision to pursue additive manufacturing by explaining in the publication: “Subtractive manufacturing does not provide the absolute freedom in its design as there may be some application that cannot be achieved by milling, due to being unattainable for a milling instrument. In such cases, additive manufacturing, with its layer-by-layer working principle, surpasses the subtractive one.” Because fractures can occur as a result of creating thin ceramic pieces through subtractive manufacturing, each veneer often does not exceed 0.3 mm in thickness, and traditionally requires an analogue preparation technique.

Dr Alexey Unkovskiy, associate professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (also known as RUDN University) in Moscow, commented in a press release: “Dental glass-ceramic, especially lithium disilicate, is widely used for crowns, overlays and veneers in aesthetically significant areas as it overcomes the limitations of metal–ceramic restorations. 3D-printing technology allows thin lithium disilicate restorations in the range of 0.1–0.2 mm and can therefore replace press technology. However, there are no clinical reports in the literature on this under conditions in vivo.

The study, titled “Additive manufacturing of lithium disilicate with the LCM process for classic and non-prep veneers: Preliminary technical and clinical case experience”, was published online on 1 September 2022 in Materials.

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