Hold your breath for mir­a­cle mouth scan

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D TECHNOLOGY -

Us­ing a 3D scan­ner to map a pa­tient’s mouth, CSIRO re­searchers and Aus­tralian den­tal com­pany, Oven­tus, can now print a mouth­piece that pre­vents dan­ger­ous pauses in breath dur­ing sleep.

Printed from ti­ta­nium and coated with a med­i­cal grade plas­tic, the break­through mouth­piece is cus­tomised for each pa­tient.

The de­vice has a ‘duck­bill’ that ex­tends from the mouth like a whis­tle and di­vides into two sep­a­rate air­ways. It al­lows air to f low through to the back of the throat, avoid­ing ob­struc­tions from the nose, the back of the mouth, and tongue.

Sleep ap­noea oc­curs when the air pas­sage in the throat be­comes blocked dur­ing sleep and causes people to stop breath­ing. In se­vere cases, people can suf­fer hun­dreds of events a night.

An es­ti­mated one mil­lion Aus­tralians suf­fer from the dis­or­der, which can lead to high blood pres­sure, stroke, ir­reg­u­lar heart­beats, heart at­tacks and di­a­betes. This num­ber is ex­pected to in­crease due to grow­ing obe­sity lev­els and an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The ex­ist­ing treat­ments for sleep ap­noea in­clude de­vices that push the lower jaw for­ward to open up the air­way or in more se­vere cases; a face mask which cre­ates a con­tin­u­ous f low of air can be used.

CSIRO’s 3D print­ing ex­pert, John Barnes, says the tech­nol­ogy is open­ing new doors for treat­ments of a range of med­i­cal is­sues glob­ally.

“When Oven­tus came to CSIRO with this idea, we were re­ally ex­cited. The pos­si­bil­i­ties of 3D print­ing are end­less and the fact that we can now de­sign and print a com­pletely cus­tomised mouth­piece for pa­tients is rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” Barnes said.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing prospect for people suf­fer­ing from the de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­or­der and the de­sign of­fers sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits which can­not be achieved with more tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques.”

Oven­tus CEO, Neil An­der­son, said the key to the new 3D treat­ment was in the de­sign.

“This new de­vice is tai­lored to an in­di­vid­ual’s mouth us­ing a 3D scan and is used only on the top teeth which make it more com­pact and far more com­fort­able.

“The new 3D printed mouth­piece by­passes all ob­struc­tions by hav­ing air­ways that deliver air to the back of the throat and it will also stop pa­tients from snor­ing,” An­der­son said.

The de­vice is ex­pected to be avail­able to pa­tients in 2015.

CSIRO’s ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity, Lab 22, is be­ing used to man­u­fac­ture a range of pro­to­type prod­ucts in­clud­ing bio­med­i­cal im­plants, au­to­mo­tive, aero­space and de­fence parts for Aus­tralian in­dus­try.

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