THE future of dental care has arrived in the Far North with dental patients in Cairns set to be the first outside the south-east corner to have access to 3D dental printing technology.
The $241,000 technology was funded by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation (FNQHF) and will help reduce the waiting list for adult patients needing dentures.
“Up until now, the manufacture of dentures has been an entirely manual approach but the new technology will allow for an increased number of dentures to be manufactured quickly and with greater accuracy,” Cairns Hospital Director of Oral Health Dr Harry Robertson said.
“This fundamentally means an increased number of patients will be taken off the waiting list once the process is implemented.
“Once the concept has been embedded, we plan to roll the technology out to other dental clinics in the Tablelands and Cassowary Coast.”
The technology will make it possible to offer other types of treatment not currently offered by the oral health service like crown and bridge work in the future.
“It serves as a pivotal component in converting patient information to an entirely digital format, in line with the health service’s broader transition in that direction,” Dr Robertson said.
“The technology will enhance the provision of top-tier dental care for our patients and simultaneously serve as a magnet for retaining current staff and attracting potential recruits.”
FNQHF chairman Dr Ken Chapman said that upon learning of the equipment’s advantages, he was immediately convinced of its value.
“With this equipment, the turnaround will be reduced from five weeks to under two, offering significantly enhanced precision,” Dr Chapman said.
“Good dental health is critical to general wellbeing and that’s why we were so pleased to support this purchase.
“Most denture patients are adults but the technology is able to be used for mouth guards and orthodontic retainers for children,” he said.
Currently final year JCU dental students are being welcomed to several of clinics and will have the chance to use the new technology as it’s introduced.
“I foresee an even tighter partnership with the JCU Dental School. They’ll likely show keen interest in the concept,” Dr Robertson said.