The jaws of life

3D-dentures3D printing could revolutionise joint replacement surgery, enabling the creation of fully customised implants that can be rapidly printed and fitted to patients.

With part of his jaw missing, a section of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), Richard Stratton began to experience severe pain throughout the day. Typically, patients needing a new TMJ only have two real options. The first is a custom prosthesis manufactured in the US, which requires the patient’s jaw to be wired shut for 10 weeks. The second is a bulk-manufactured,”off-the-shelf” prosthesis that is often unsuited to the patient’s individual needs.

Yet Richard’s doctor George Dimitroulis, a senior consultant maxillofacial surgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital, saw potential for something new.

Over the next three years, Dr Dimitroulis and Dr David Ackland from the Department of Mechanical Engineering worked to develop an alternative treatment using 3D printing. The result of their collaboration was Richard’s 3D-printed titanium jaw, the first jaw joint to be produced in Australia.

Not only has this device vastly improved his quality of life, but it promises to do the same for thousands of others.

“The joint has been working really, really well. It really has improved my quality of life,” he says, “I have the jaw now that I was always meant to have.”

Read the original article, ‘The Jaws of Life‘, on Pursuit

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