Navigating the Complexities of 3D Print Post-Curing: Upholding Patient Safety & Embracing Professional Excellence.

Post-Curing 3D Print Dental Technology
August 15, 2023
  |   by
Hugo Sousa

Welcome to the vibrant, intricate, and often misunderstood world of 3D print post-curing.

If you've ever found yourself puzzled by the nuances of this essential process or wondered about the intricacies that often go unnoticed, you're not alone. There's a common lack of understanding around 3D print post-processing that needs to be addressed, and that's why we've created this piece.

Our mission here is more than a technical exploration; it's a heartfelt guide crafted by experts who've walked the path, made the mistakes, and learned the hard lessons. 

Why focus on post-curing? Because post-curing isn't just a procedure; it's a commitment to your patients, your practice or laboratory, and yourselves. It's the unseen craftsmanship that transforms dental work from adequate to exceptional.

Here's where we want to nudge your thinking gently: could there be more to post-curing than meets the eye? Whether you're considering integrating the advanced in-house capabilities or collaborating with one of the leading digital dental labs, the possibilities are vast. These options offer insights, expertise, and technology that elevate your practice to new heights. Could such strategic choices free your hands, sharpen your focus, and enhance patient care?

This article is more than a friendly conversation; it's a mission. It's a mission to protect talented dental surgeons and technicians like you from potential negligence claims and to uphold the sacred trust patients place in you.

We're not here to sell but to share, educate, and empower. We recognise the need for clarity and education in an area often shrouded in confusion. Together, let's navigate the world of 3D print post-curing, where science meets art, where challenges become opportunities, and where every smile is a testament to our shared success.

Understanding Post-Curing: The Science Behind the Art 

Post-curing is a UV light treatment essential in the world of dental restorations. This intricate process ensures that materials achieve complete polymer conversion, minimising residual monomer and maximising mechanical properties. The result? A biocompatible, fully validated end-product that stands the test of time.

But post-curing is more than just a step in the process; it's an art form akin to a master chef's final touch that transforms a good dish into a culinary masterpiece. It's the difference between a temporary fix and a lasting restoration. It's not optional; it's essential.

The importance of the correct post-curing method cannot be overstated. It's a precise process that requires specific temperatures and carefully controlled conditions.

Inadequate post-curing can lead to incomplete polymerisation, compromising the mechanical properties of the restoration and potentially affecting patient safety.

The Problem: Unknowingly Using Sub-Optimal Equipment

In pursuit of excellence, it's easy to be swayed by new tools and technologies, especially in the rapidly advancing field of 3D printing. But here lies a hidden danger: not all medical devices are created equal, and using sub-optimal equipment in post-processing can lead to grave consequences.

Imagine crafting a delicate sculpture, only to see it crumble because the material isn't strong enough. That's what happens when sub-optimal tools are used in post-curing. The medical devices might look perfect but could be structurally compromised.

These inadequacies aren't merely cosmetic; they can risk patients' health and well-being. Incomplete polymerisation can release harmful substances into a patient's tissue, causing allergic reactions or long-term health issues. 

In post-curing, the right tools are paramount, which extends to certain materials' precise requirements. Take Lucitone Digital Print (LDP) materials, for example. 

According to Ryan Alan Bant, Sales Manager - Digital Services & Solutions at Dentsply Sirona, "The reason Lucitone Digital Print materials need to be cured with the approved light curing units is that our all LDP resins need both heat and light to cure completely, curing at approximately 80 degrees. If you used another curing unit on the market, there is a good chance the resin would not be cured all the way through, risking uncured resin being exposed in a patient's mouth." 

Such a risk is not merely hypothetical; it's a tangible threat to patient safety. The Lucitone system has been certified with 510K in the US, MDR in Europe, and Health Canada, underscoring the necessity of adhering to approved curing units. 

This powerful insight drives home the point that cutting corners in post-curing isn't just unwise; it can be outright dangerous, reinforcing the need for precision, adherence to guidelines, and collaboration with experts who understand the complexities of this vital process.

To do otherwise is a gamble with a patient’s health, a risk no ethical practitioner would knowingly take.

The Legality of Failure to Post Process Adequately

But the problem continues after patient safety. Utilising sub-optimal or the wrong equipment, whether it's the allure of cheap UV nail bar equipment or simply a lack of understanding, opens Pandora's box of potential legal claims. The result is the same: compromised quality and potential liability.

Unfortunately, the market is rife with misunderstandings and misconceptions that can lead to poor choices in post-processing equipment. It's easy to see why some might be tempted by a £20 unit, thinking it can perform the same function as a £4k unit designed for a specific purpose. But as one insider said, "If that was true, why on earth would we spend so much?" 

The reality is that cutting corners in post-processing isn't just about saving money; it's about risking validation.

Products that fail to go through the proper process are effectively considered non-validated, as "the validation is based on all stages being followed precisely in print, post-process, and cure." 

Validation is more than a stamp of approval; it's a testament to quality, precision, and adherence to stringent guidelines.

A decision to save a few pounds today could cost thousands tomorrow if it leads to legal action. Therefore, the message is clear: proper 3D printing post-curing isn't an option; it's a necessity, and anything less is a risk not worth taking.

Time Matters: The Hidden Currency

Time is invaluable. Time is money. We've all heard these sayings, but when it comes to post-curing, they take on a profound meaning. Every minute spent on post-curing diverts attention from patient care, professional growth, and personal well-being. 

But there's more to it than just the clock's ticking; there's a hidden cost, a silent drain on resources that can profoundly impact your practice.

The sheer array of printers and materials on the market is both a blessing and a challenge. Each printer, and each material, comes with its unique quirks and requirements. 

It's not a one-size-fits-all scenario; it's a complex puzzle where the real key lies in knowing each material and its process to the finest details. 

Ever-advancing technology demands continuous learning, adaptation, and a keen eye for detail. But here's the pressing question: Is it worth the immense pressure and time drain? 

The constant chase to keep up with every nuance can divert focus from patient care and core competencies. It poses a conundrum that invites us to reflect on our priorities and consider if there might be a more efficient path to achieving excellence.

Consider this: a single post-processing procedure takes about 30 minutes. That's 30 minutes of focused attention, 30 minutes of meticulous care, and 30 minutes of valuable time. Now, imagine what else could be achieved in those precious moments.

For dental surgeons, those 30 minutes represent more than just time; they represent opportunity- the opportunity to see another patient, perform billable work, and enhance practice revenue. 

When you add up those half-hour segments over days, weeks, and months, the lost revenue isn't just substantial; it's staggering.

But the cost of time extends beyond financial loss. Those 30-minute segments also represent lost opportunities for patient connection, professional development, and personal relaxation. They add stress, invite inefficiency, and can lead to burnout.

Time spent on post-processing isn't just time away from the patient chair; it's time away from what makes you an exceptional dental surgeon. It's time away from honing your skills, nurturing patient relationships, and growing your practice.

Exploring Solutions: In-House Mastery or Partnering with Expertise?

In the ever-evolving landscape of dental restoration, choices abound. The Primeprint 3D Printing System offers a pioneering chairside solution for surgeons looking to broaden their in-house treatment capabilities. 

This comprehensive, medical-grade system is the pinnacle of automation designed exclusively for dental applications. From the initial file preparation to the final product, every step is meticulously streamlined, ensuring reduced handling times, augmented productivity, and, crucially, creating medically safe, validated, biocompatible applications with precision. 

Yet, innovation comes at a cost. The Primeprint Solution, with enhanced features like automatic case documentation and the bespoke Primeprint Box for effortless material handling, carries a considerable investment, nearing the £30k region. For many, this presents a moment of reflection: is the substantial in-house investment the right path, or is there another way?

This leads us to an alternative that marries quality and safety with economic sensibility: outsourcing the post-curing process to a premier lab that mirrors your commitment to excellence. 

Imagine a lab deeply acquainted with the nuances of various materials, backed by significant investments in state-of-the-art equipment, all geared to guarantee flawless post-curing.

Our allegiance to the dental community goes beyond mere service provision. It's a vibrant tapestry of transparency, education, and collaboration. By candidly sharing our toolkit details—like our reliance on the Octoflash unit for splints, crowns, and guides and the InLab SpeedCure for Lucitone dentures—we not only underscore our unwavering dedication to the craft but also highlight the significant investments both in time and money required to master it.

The benefits of utilising our services are multifaceted:

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that experts with cutting-edge technology handle the post-curing process alleviates stress and uncertainty. It assures that every restoration meets the highest standards of quality and safety. Furthermore, entrusting this essential phase to a specialised lab ensures adherence to the stringent validation process, confirming the restoration's biocompatibility, mechanical integrity, and compliance with international standards.
  • Time Savings: By outsourcing post-curing, those precious 30-minute segments are reclaimed. You can refocus on patient care, professional development, and personal well-being. The time savings translate into enhanced revenue, improved patient satisfaction, and a more balanced work-life dynamic.
  • Legal Protection: The importance of removing liability from your shoulders cannot be underestimated. By entrusting the post-curing process to a leading lab, you're not just outsourcing a task but significantly reducing the risk of negligence claims. 

    Our rigorous adherence to validated processes and international certifications (ISO) ensures that legal compliance is always maintained. In a landscape where legal challenges can be costly and damaging to reputation, partnering with experts who understand and rigorously follow legal protocols provides invaluable protection. It's more than a matter of convenience; it's a strategic decision that safeguards your practice, reputation, and peace of mind.
  • Access to Expertise: Partnering with a specialised lab like ours is akin to tapping into a vast reservoir of knowledge, experience, and global recognition. You don't just benefit from our cutting-edge technology and mastery of the latest 3D printing dental restoration advancements; you gain access to a team that travels the world lecturing, teaching, and sharing insights with fellow dental surgeons and technicians.

    Our commitment to ongoing research, continuous learning, and active participation in the international dental community ensures we're always at the forefront of innovation. By aligning with us, you align with a legacy of excellence, a passion for education, and a dedication to quality that resonates globally. It's not just about getting the job done; it's about embracing a partnership that elevates your practice through unparalleled expertise and a shared commitment to excellence.
  • Economic Efficiency: It turns what might seem like an expense into a safeguard, transforming potential losses into tangible gains. It's not just about saving money; it's about investing in peace of mind, professional integrity, and a future where your dental practice thrives without hidden financial pitfalls.

You gain peace of mind, knowing that every restoration meets the highest standards and that time, legal liability, and validation burdens are handled precisely.

When weighing the merits of a sophisticated in-house setup or mulling over a collaboration with a team of seasoned experts, the core objective remains steadfast: enhancing dental practices and ensuring optimal patient safety. 

The choice, ultimately, is yours to make.

I hope you've found this article insightful, shedding light on an often-overlooked aspect of dental care and illuminating a pathway to success for you and your practice or laboratory and ever-greater patient satisfaction.

Best wishes

Steve Campbell

MD, Nexus Dental Laboratory

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