Denture Fitting Cut From Month to Minutes by Israeli Students' Invention

Scanner takes 3-D images of mouth and sends them to a computer – sparing the tooth-challenged a month of mucking about with putty in their mouth.

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HoloDent: Stick camera in mouth, start rolling.
HoloDent: Stick camera in mouth, start rolling.Credit: Biodesign Program at Hebrew University / Hadassah Medical Center

Dentures are a blight. Just fitting for dentures can take a month of mucking about at the dentist, who slowly, carefully inserts putty redolent of burning rubber into the mouth to create an impression of the shape of the teeth and palate – again and again. And in the months and years after that pleasure, the mouth may change again, requiring a new round, because using dentures that don't fit well hurts.

Or, the fitting could be done in half an hour using a technology developed by students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, saving everybody time and money.

“The process of fitting dentures hasn’t significantly changed in the last 100 years,” said Dr. Anat Sharon, director of the Maxillofacial Prosthetics Clinic at the Jerusalem-based Hadassah Medical Center.

Apparently thinking it high time for it to significantly change, Sharon recruited engineering and business students to help her develop an alternative technology (through BioDesign: Medical Innovation, a joint program of the Hebrew University and Hadassah).

The result is HoloDent, a scanner that produces a 3-dimensional, precise image of the mouth, much more accurately than stinky goo can produce. The dentist sticks a decently small camera in one's maw, scans the oral cavity – note, no impression materials are involved in the making of this movie! – and outputs the exact image to a computer.

HoloDent won a recent award at the Startup Open Israel competition.

The market for dentures for the elderly is worth billions of dollars a year. The market for denture fitting is worth $500 million in the United States alone, the Hebrew University says.