3D Printing Helps Replace Patient’s Jaw

Oct 22, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

A man in Bangalore was fitted with a 3D printed denture that served to replace not just his teeth, but the roof of his mouth.

Cancer and Complications

The man was diagnosed with oral cancer, which had to be surgically removed. The cancer was so extensive that he had to have much of the roof of his mouth removed, along with almost half the arch of his maxillary (upper) teeth. This left him with a smile that had a huge vacant area on one side. Not only that, but the removal of the upper part of his mouth made it very difficult for him to eat or talk.

After he had undergone surgery for cancer, he experienced further complications, too: trismus (commonly called lockjaw) caused by radiation therapy. The muscles of mastication, which control the jaw, may develop fibrous bands that prevent them from opening the jaw. In addition, damage to the temporomandibular joint can result from radiation. Details of the man’s condition weren’t included in the article, so we’re not sure exactly how his lockjaw resulted.

No Dental Implants

In many cases, reconstructing an arch like this would be ideal for dental implants using a dental implant supported bridge, but radiation therapy makes this very difficult. When bone is subjected to radiation, it doesn’t heal properly, which means that the dental implants likely would not take.

Instead, the man was fitted with a modified denture that not only replaced the missing teeth, but covered the hole in the roof of the mouth.

To create the denture, a CT scan of the man’s mouth was taken. This CT scan was used to design a denture. A 3D printer created a replica of the man’s upper jaw as well as a model of the denture. Once they thought they had the fit right, they made a wax try-in model, the same as we do for regular dentures. When it was confirmed that this fit, they made a final version.

This is another great example of how 3D printing is transforming medicine, including not just making new dental implants, but also increasing denture options.

If you would like to learn more about advanced technology options for your condition, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment with a Grapevine cosmetic dentist at Grapevine Dental Care today.