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Vacuum-Formed Surgical Guides

Dr. Michael Scherer, DMD, MS is an assistant clinical professor at Loma Linda University, a clinical instructor at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, and maintains a practice limited to prosthodontics and implant dentistry in Sonoma, California. He uses the Form 2 3D printer to create educational models, bite guards, bleaching trays, and vacuum-formed surgical guides.

Dr. Michael Scherer prints dental models for vacuum-forming surgical guides on his Form 2 3D printer.

“Having my own in-office 3D printer saves a tremendous amount of time and expense in the laboratory. I can do the entire surgical guide process in about an hour and a half instead of having to send it away for a week.”

Orthodontic model printed with Grey resin.
Orthodontic model printed with Formlabs' Grey resin.

Dr. Scherer begins with a surgical guide design created from a digital scan of a patient’s teeth or jaw with a CBCT scanner, 3D scanner, and modeling software. He exports the surgical guide template to PreForm, a simple software that prepares the model for printing in one click. Next, he creates a vacuum template to go over the top of the model sleeves. The surgical guide prepares him for the procedure and improves his precision during it.

Surgical guide vacuum-formed onto a 3D printed model.
Surgical guide vacuum-formed onto a 3D printed model.

In addition to fabricating the surgical guide, he can also print a model for surgical practice. “I can practice an actual surgical procedure on a 3D printed model. That way, when I go to the mouth, I’ve already done it once.”

Orthodontic and educational models printed by Dr. Scherer
Orthodontic and educational models printed by Dr. Scherer.

Desktop 3D printing has saved Dr. Scherer a huge amount of time and money. He explains, “Before, I used to have to send [a surgical guide design] out to the laboratory, wait 2 to 3 weeks, and pay hundreds of dollars. Now, I can print out a model in about an hour.” His upgraded workflow makes surgery more efficient and ultimately improves patient outcomes.

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