November 23, 2017
About a year and a half ago, a college student made a splash by creating a set of what were essentially homemade Invisalign braces. He did this by carefully researching the topic, using the actual dental equipment he ordered straight from the medical suppliers, taking a mold of his teeth using the same putty as dentists, and then spending a lot of time programming a 3D printer at his campus to move his virtual teeth slowly into a straighter alignment. He then made a set of molds with the printer and used them to create his braces.
But even though the student’s homemade braces got him the results he was looking for, even he doesn’t recommend trying to copy what he did. The student made a point of putting in a lot of research and refusing to take any shortcuts, such as printing the appliances directly instead of making molds and using the special plastic approved for long-term use in mouths since it doesn’t break down or leach dangerous chemicals.
Getting a set of braces from an orthodontist can be expensive, but there’s a reason for that expense that goes far beyond the cost of the materials that go in your mouth. What you’re paying for is expertise, the years of training orthodontists go through above and beyond what regular dentists experience.
An orthodontist can look at your mouth and predict how your teeth will shift around, what will harm the enamel and what’s cosmetic, and that orthodontist will know how to fix the situation. This can mean braces, but it can also mean moving the jaw, expanding the palate, or all kinds of other procedures.
3D printing can do some amazing things, and they can even help orthodontists create the dental appliances they use to correct teeth. However, even if you have access to the same equipment you shouldn’t think that because you can make something yourself that you absolutely should.
Much like knocking down a wall in your home to make a new room, private individuals can get all the tools they need to do something but end up causing more harm than good. But while repairing the damage to your home is expensive but possible, the damage you do to your smile could be permanent.