New process could improve dental restoration procedures

August 10, 2010, Missouri University of Science and Technology

( -- Oral surgeons may one day have an easier, less costly approach to one important aspect of dental restoration, thanks to a newly patented process developed by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The process computerizes the method for creating a dental bar, also called an over-denture. For dental restoration procedures, the device is the bridge connecting to dentures.

The computerized approach was developed by Dr. Ming Leu, the Keith and Pat Bailey Missouri Distinguished Professor of Integrated Product Manufacturing at Missouri S&T, and one of Leu's former students, Amit Gawate, who received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Missouri S&T in 2005. Leu and Gawate were recently awarded a patent for their process.

Typically, a dental technician creates the device through a laborious manual process that involves molding and casting. But Leu's approach is entirely digital and automated.

"This method can reduce the cost as well as the time involved" in fabricating dental bars, Leu says.

The conventional approach involves first making an impression of the area of the mouth where a denture would be placed, then casting a model of the gums and implants. From there, technicians design and fabricate the dental bar from a metal material.

Rather than making a physical model, Leu's process uses digital imaging technology to take a picture of a patient's mouth. From there, computer algorithms - developed by Leu and Gawate - crunch the image data to create a computer-aided design model of the actual dental bar. That model can then be fabricated using either an "additive manufacturing" or a computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machining process.

"Additive manufacturing is a way of making a part by adding material, one layer at a time, rather than removing material, as you would do with machining," he says. The process uses less material than machining or other processes and can be easily tailored to individualized parts of different geometries, Leu adds.

An expert in manufacturing, Leu first became interested in dental surgery after a prosthodontist contacted Leu about some previous research with additive manufacturing. In 2000, Leu developed a way to create prototypes of manufactured parts out of ice, a method he called rapid freeze prototyping, and the prosthodontist thought the approach would be a cost-effective way to make models for dental surgery. Together, they obtained funding from the National Science Foundation to investigate the approach. From there, Leu developed the computer-aided method for dental bar design.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The coffee cannabis connection

March 15, 2018
It's well known that a morning cup of joe jolts you awake. But scientists have discovered coffee affects your metabolism in dozens of other ways, including your metabolism of steroids and the neurotransmitters typically linked ...

Smoking linked with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

March 15, 2018
The prevalence of diabetes has increased almost 10-fold in China since the early 1980s, with one in 10 adults in China now affected by diabetes. Although adiposity is the major modifiable risk factor for diabetes, other research ...

Key drivers of high US healthcare spending identified

March 13, 2018
The major drivers of high healthcare costs in the U.S. appear to be higher prices for nearly everything—from physician and hospital services to diagnostic tests to pharmaceuticals—and administrative complexity.

Pedometer health boost lasts four years

March 13, 2018
Wearing a pedometer to count your daily steps can keep you healthier and more active for as long as four years after using it, a new study shows.

Toilet-to-tap: Gross to think about, but how does it taste?

March 13, 2018
Here's a blind test taste like Pepsi never imagined. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, recently published a study of recycled wastewater that did not focus on its safety-which has long been established-but ...

The Great Recession took a toll on public health, study finds

March 12, 2018
The Great Recession, spanning 2008 to 2010, was associated with heightened cardiovascular risk factors, including increased blood pressure and glucose levels, according to a new UCLA-led study. The connections were especially ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.