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3D Printers Reduce Time in Dentist's Chair

BOSTON (CBS) - Going to the dentist can be painful, not because it hurts, but because it can be time-consuming, especially if you need a crown or a bridge. But as Dr. Mallika Marshall explains, new technology can reduce time in the dentist's chair by hours.

Aimee Stone of Needham needs to have a dental crown replaced but traditionally, that could take several trips to the dentist. As a working mother of three, Aimee doesn't have time for that.

"The biggest problem is booking my time," Aimee explains. "I have to pick up my kids at certain times. I have to fit in work, so having that extra appointment on my schedule just changes everything for me."

But today, Aimee can walk out with a new crown in less than two hours, from start to finish, thanks to laser-based technology.

Dr. Jim Stein, a prosthodontist affiliated with the Tufts School of Dental Medicine, creates a 3D image of the damaged tooth using the Plan Scan wand.

"We have the image completely built in 30 seconds," says Dr. Stein, "instead of sitting with an impression tray in your mouth."

He then designs a new crown with perfect dimensions on a computer monitor which are sent wirelessly to a 3D printer mill located down the hall. The mill quickly builds the new crown out of ceramic in a matter of minutes. Dr. Stein places the new crown in Aimee's mouth and it's a perfect fit.

Dr. Stein says the technology can be used for crowns, bridges, and veneers. He adds that it's safe and that patients love it.

"It's great for the patients," he say. "It makes it all transparent. It's not being shipped out to be done an d they get to watch the whole process."

Digital dentistry. (WBZ-TV)

That gives Aimee added comfort.

"I have confidence in him," she said. "...It's nice to know that he is making this perfectly fit crown for my mouth."

It doesn't hurt that Dr. Stein is having a blast.

"Being able to do this for my patients, with my patients is really the most creative thrill I've ever had," he said.

"We actually have a lot of fun here. It's not painful for the patient. They get immediate gratification, and I can't imagine practicing any other way.

To find a local dentist offering this laser-based technology, visit


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