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Same-Day Starts, Braces, and Consultations Available!

Your Top-Rated Orthodontist in
Charleston, SC, For Braces & Invisalign

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The viability of 3D printing has changed many manufacturing industries, including the orthodontic appliance industry. The ability to model and print appliances to exacting specifications has allowed orthodontists to create more accurate, personalized, and effective appliances than ever before.

Continue reading to learn about 3D printing in orthodontics and what the technology means for you as you begin your new treatment.

Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.

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What is 3D-Printing for Orthodontic Appliances?

Orthodontic appliances have been traditionally made of dental stone, a casting material that hardens in extreme heat. It can therefore be molded into appliances for different patients based on casts of their teeth. This was the standard method for creating these appliances until the 1990s.

At that point, technology became available to “print” appliances from resin or metal as directed by a file created from scans taken in the office. The printing methods have advanced in the last few decades, but the principle remains largely unchanged, regardless of whether a provider can print the appliances in-office or must send away for them from a licensed printing facility.

Importantly, most orthodontists do not offer 3D-printed metal appliances as these are still comparatively expensive to make. The resin-printed options remain the most cost-effective for both providers and patients, though improvements in technology may make the metal variants more feasible in the next few years.

Advantages of 3D Printing Appliances

Manually creating dental impressions has always been one of the messier parts of creating orthodontic appliances. The process of taking an impression, creating a cast, and molding the appliance is uncomfortable for patients and time-consuming for doctors. 3D printing offers a more efficient means of turning out an accurate appliance without needing a long appointment in the chair.

With the scanner recording all the details of a patient’s oral structures, the printer can then go to work creating a custom appliance without the intervention of the patient or the provider. Many printing facilities deliver to offices, allowing providers to save money on equipment costs and improve the efficiency of their treatment schedules.

Molds perfectly customized to a patient’s oral structures improve the efficiency of their corresponding treatments. This saves patients chair time, reduces the number of needed appointments, and increases their overall comfort during treatment.

Disadvantages of 3D Printing Appliances

One of the disadvantages of 3D-printed aligners is that a fault in the process can lead to striation, which forms lines in the normally clear materials. This can lead to “invisible” appliances becoming visible, reducing their desirability compared to traditional molding methods.

The material costs for crafting 3D-printed appliances are also comparatively high, especially with metal printers. The machines themselves can cost around $200,000, leading many offices to wait until the software development on these machines improves before investing in this trending technology. While 3D printing has revolutionized the process of manufacturing dental appliances and planning treatments, it has yet to become the cheapest option for physical appliance creation.

Finally, resin models made with a 3D printer are not recyclable, leading the FDA to omit this medical-grade resin from their list of approved materials.

Applications of 3D-Printed Appliances

The most commonly used application of 3D printing in orthodontics has been the Invisalign aligners. These clear plastic aligners are worn by patients instead of braces. They are resized incrementally as treatment progresses, a process made much easier by 3D printing methods.

However, 3D printing has applications beyond these appliances. Using the same technology, providers can create three-dimensional models of a patient’s jaw and teeth to create custom braces. Increasing the precision of these braces allows patients to receive completely personalized care, ultimately making them more comfortable and reducing their time in the chair. Customized treatments even save them extra appointments since 3D printing can automate so much of the fitting and scheduling that normally goes into a complex treatment plan.

Choose Reese Orthodontics

If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.

Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.

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Easy Ways To Get Started

If you want to learn more about our orthodontic practice - where we offer extensive experience with a Board Certified Orthodontist, where we offer a satisfaction guarantee, and where we offer flexible payment options - Reese Orthodontics is here to serve you.

"Dr. Reese and staff share an inviting personality with a clean and professional atmosphere. I am very happy with the service, the product and the final result. I would encourage any of my friends and family to consult with Dr. Reese around their Orthodontic needs."
- Austin H.
"It has been a great experience all around getting braces at Dr. Reese Orthodontics. It's a great office with wonderful and friendly staff. I am extremely happy with the results. Can't say enough good things about Dr. Reese and his staff. I highly recommend him!"
- Nicole S.
"Dr. Reese and his staff was referred to me by a friend, and I highly recommend them! They were friendly, professional, helpful and quick to respond. I could not be happier with the results of Invisalign. I wore them about 7 months and my teeth are as straight as can be. Thank you for the great care and results!"
- Dancy E.
"I chose the absolute perfect orthodontist to perfect my smile. Dr. Reese has a personality that calms you and removes the anxiety that may come with the process. Dr. Reese is a true artist. I am so excited with my new smile. Dr. Reese accomplished the goals I was looking for and I am forever grateful. Thank you Dr. Reese!!!"
- Melanie C.
"Just awesome! Dr. Reese is the one to go to. He knows what he's doing and is great at what he does. Makes you feel like family every time you go visit. I can't get over how great my smile looks now. Definitely recommended."
- Harsha P.
*The reviews listed are from actual patients of Reese Orthodontics.
Individual results may vary. Reviews are not claimed to represent results for everyone.
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Our Charleston
Orthodontic Office

2057 Charlie Hall Blvd. STE D
Charleston, SC 29414


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Monday - Thursday: 8:00AM - 5:00PM

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Dr. Reese McElveen, our award-winning orthodontist in Charleston, South Carolina has transformed the smiles of over 11,000 patients. Reese Orthodontics offers the most advanced orthodontic care for children and adults. Types of braces and orthodontic treatment include metal braces, clear braces, gold braces, Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, Damon Braces, SureSmile. Dr. Reese can even help you achieve your confident smile faster with AcceleDent.

Call 843.573.7279 today to schedule your appointment with our board certified orthodontist in Charleston, SC, at our conveniently located Charleston orthodontic office. Come experience Reese Orthodontics and you will see for yourself that we offer innovative and effective orthodontic care in Charleston, Downtown Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Johns Island, Goose Creek, Hanahan and Ladson, South Carolina (SC).