Dec 12, 2018

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Buys 3D Printers to Create Dentures

Starting next year, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be using 3D printers to create dentures for inmates making it the first corrections agency in the USA to use the technology onsite, rather than waiting months for traditionally molded dentures.

Making well-fitted dentures can take months and is a costly process. However, 3D printing technology is speeding up this process and provides patients with a fitting denture in a matter of hours. Not only does this save time, it also saves money.

By next spring, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be utilizing this technology to create 3d printed dentures. It is believed to be the first corrections agency in the USA to do so. Technicians at prisons in Texas will now scan a patient’s mouth and send this information to a central 3D printer.

Within a matter of weeks, prisoners who require new teeth will be fitted with dentures. This will hugely improve the lives of many prisoners. The change comes after a recent Houston Chronicle exposed that inmates were living without teeth, having to gum their food or drink puree instead.

Prisons will avoid the fee of having to transport prisoners to dentists across state. One drawback is that 3D scanning and printing technology for dentures is not a cheap purchase upfront. But, officials explain that resulting 3D printed dentures will cost far less than those which are traditionally made and have a price tag of $50 each.

3D Printing Dentures for Everyone Who Needs Them

The Houston Chronicle began a year-long investigation in which time they received letters from over 20 inmates about how the prison system wouldn’t replace missing teeth or broken dentures.

The policy was that inmates could receive dentures in “situations of medical necessity”. This didn’t include chewing food and many inmates would rapidly lose weight before they were given teeth.

However, only three months ago, after the media coverage of this problem, prison officials decided to make a change. They announced that they’ll be starting a denture clinic, hiring a denture specialist, two assistants, and training unit dentists to recognize the problem.

Furthermore, they explained that they would be reviewing denture-related grievances and would buy 3D scanners and a 3D printer for one of the prison units. The printers will cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

But, the hope is that with the new clinic and technology, it’ll be possible to see up to 10 patients per day. Prison spokesman Jeremy Desel, explains: “TDCJ along with our correctional health care partners will be utilizing new technology to provide dentures to those who need them…The number of elderly offenders within our system continues to climb, and we believe that this will be the most efficient and cost-effective solution.”

David Ford is a 58-year-old inmate (pictured) who lost his teeth and then his dentures in prison. After the Houston Chronicle had the chance to interview him, his case was reviewed, leading to a reform. Now, Ford has teeth and adds: “I feel like I’m back.”

Source: Houston Chronicle

License: The text of "Texas Department of Criminal Justice Buys 3D Printers to Create Dentures" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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