DIY Dentistry: College Student 3D Prints His Own Retainers

Dental tools with fake teeth

Amos Dudley, an undergrad student from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wanted to straighten his teeth without visiting the dentist. Since he didn’t want to spend money on a new round of braces, the digital design major decided to make his own. With the help of 3D printing technology and a healthy dose of ingenuity, he was able to create his own teeth aligners for only $60.

A Part McGuyver, Part CSI Approach to Orthodontics

The process wasn’t easy. Dudley had to read up on orthodontic procedures and design the aligners as well. First, Dudley created a mold of his teeth using Permastone and a 3D-printed impression tray. After creating the teeth mold, he took a scaled laser scan of the model through reference points on software. Then, Dudley created the animated the sequence of how his teeth would be straightened. He did this by measuring the total distance of travel and dividing it by how far each tooth can move per aligner.

The Dual Power of Patience and 3D Technology

Dudley claims that creating his custom aligners isn’t rocket science. He did it one small step at a time, where he spent a majority of his time waiting for materials or catching up on schoolwork. Once he finished creating the digital model for the aligners, he printed the models using a 3D printer and vacuum forming machine to produce the actual aligners. After wearing the DIY-aligners for 16 weeks, Dudley ended up with a remarkable smile.

The Experts Weigh In: The Risks of DIY Dentistry

DIY solutions to dentistry sound appealing because of the possibility of saving money. While dental experts were both shocked and amazed at Dudley’s attempt to DIY his way to straighter teeth, they also believe that it was merely a combination of luck and good initial conditions that allowed him to achieve the effect. Nothing can still compare to the use of actual orthodontic appliances since the result might have ended up differently if Dudley had teeth decay or bone disease.

A college student may have successfully created his own dental aligners, but the procedure may not yield the same result if used on a different patient. The cost of dental treatment, after all, would pale in comparison to the potential risks.