Dentists Use 3D Printing To Reconstruct A Cancer Survivor’s Jaw

A team of dentists reconstructed this cancer survivor's jaw using 3D printing.

5. 6. 16 by Colin Aboy
Scott J Grunewald
Image by Scott J Grunewald

A Game-Changer

From 3D bioprinter that could print skin to a college student successfully 3D printing his own retainers to fix his teeth—the last month was certainly all about how 3D printing has been a game-changer in the world of medicine.

Thankfully, it doesn’t stop there.

A recent press release shares the story of a cancer survivor Josh David Stephenson, a fashion designer who lost his jaw to cancer. But he just got it back, thanks to 3D printing.

Stephenson holding his 3D printed skull, and his 3D printed umbrella handle. Credit: Josh David Stephenson

3D Printing In Surgery

Stephenson was diagnosed with cancer, specifically malignant melanoma, back in 2009. This kind of skin cancer can spread to other organs. In Stephenson’s case, it was, unfortunately, all over his face. This forced the many doctors and surgeons working on him to remove his eye, the roof of his mouth, and finally, a part of his jaw.

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Nonetheless, Stephenson’s dentist, Andrew Dawood, was determined to help in the surgery. Apart from being a dentist, Dawood is also well versed in the art of 3D printing, which he involves in his profession.

Using medical data and computer software, the surgery team was able to put together a model of Stephenson’s skull, which they used to create surgical guides for precise incisions and the framework for the facial reconstruction.

Stephenson’s new 3D printed metallic jaw was machine milled to make everything as seamless as possible. However, his teeth were done through standard 3D printing.

When the operation was over, Stephenson asked for help from Dawood once again. Inspired by the miracle that 3D printing had done for him, the fashion designer had set out to manufacture a line of luxury umbrellas with 3D printed handles, courtesy of his dentist’s 3D printing services.

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