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Veterinarians can Regrow Jawbones with the Help of 3D Printing

SSchoppert

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Veterinarians at UC Davis have become known for their cutting edge approaches to caring for animals. One of these approaches involves regrowing the jaws of dogs who were affected by cancer. Removing the cancerous tumors from the jawbone often involves removing large portions of the jaw as well. In the past this surgery would involve opening up the dog after they had recovered from the cancer in order to see how to build a titanium plate.

Now with 3D printing, veterinarians can have the entire titanium plate printed and ready to be implanted without having to open the dog up prior to surgery. This reduces the amount of time the dog is under anesthesia making the entire procedure much safer. Even better is that it increases what veterinarians are able to do to help regrow the jawbone. First the perfectly designed titanium plate is screwed into healthy jaw bone on either side of the gap. Than a scaffolding material soaked in bone growth promoter is placed in the gap of the jaw.

hoshi.jpg

Hoshi received a a new lower jaw. http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu

In just 10 weeks, the bone growth promoter encourages new bone to grow and fill in the entire gap, recreating the jaw that was lost. Previously, veterinarians were only able to do portions on either side of the jaw. But now with the help of 3D printing they have been able to regrow the entire lower jaw of three dogs. All of the procedures have been successful and the dogs have been able to adjust to their new jaw. However, the procedure is not quite perfect yet. There is no way to grow new teeth into the jawbone so the dogs are left without teeth and must be on a soft diet forever. For now this small sacrifice is worth saving the life of these dogs.

Main image credit: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu



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