CAD = computer-aided design
CAM = computer-aided manufacturing/milling
These techniques come from the manufacturing industry, where they were originally used to assemble cars, parts, and precision tools. In more recent times, dentists have begun to incorporate this technology into their practices and labs to create bridges, crowns, inlays, onlays, and veneers for their patients. These technique are also used to produce the abutments used in dental implants to replace missing teeth. Using these technologies, the dentist can scan and examine the teeth from every possible angle as though the tooth were sitting the palm of their hand.
Recent advances in this dental technology mean that the restorations created using CAD/CAM are more natural-looking, more comfortable, and stronger than ever before.
What is CEREC?
CEREC is a revolutionary technology that allows the patient to get all of their ceramic dental restorations made in just one appointment. Our patients love that they don’t have to make more than one trip to the office and that they have less drilling, fewer injections, no temporary restorations, and no nasty, gooey impressions. All restorations created using CEREC are tooth-colored and are made of metal-free ceramic rather than the amalgam, gold, or other metals that have historically been tools of the dentistry trade. These restorations promote healthier tooth structure because they are less invasive and they expand and contract according to the temperature of your food and drink the same way that your natural teeth do. Additionally, they are chemically bonded to your natural teeth so they stay secure.
Almost anyone can take advantage of CEREC – the only exceptions are those who have a previous history of breaking ceramic dental restorations or who have a particularly deep bite.
For more information about the many benefits of CEREC, keep reading!
The CEREC system uses CAD (computer-assisted design)/CAM (computer-assisted milling) technology to produce custom restorative dental devices in a very short amount of time.
CEREC has three main parts:
• Acquisition device – This part of the CEREC system contains a high-quality camera as well as a fancy medical computer. Its job is to take pictures of the tooth and make a three-dimensional image which the dentist will use to design the ideal ceramic restoration for the patient.
• Three-dimensional CAD software – This software lets the dentist rotate the three-dimensional model of the tooth so that it can be viewed from all angles, ensuring that the custom-made restoration will be a perfect fit.
• Milling device – The milling device shapes a ceramic block which has been chosen to match the patient’s own natural tooth color into the exact shape the restoration requires.
The Perks of Single Appointment Dental Care
As you will read elsewhere on our site, the majority of dental restoration treatments are a multi-step process, requiring the patient to visit our office several times before the treatment is complete. During the first appointment, you would receive a shot of anesthesia so the dentist could take an impression of your mouth and place a temporary restoration on your tooth. A couple of weeks later, you would return to the office and have another injection so that the dentist can remove the temporary restoration and install the permanent one. The CEREC technology allows the dentist to complete the whole procedure all at once, skipping the impression and temporary restoration steps. This means that the patient can come in for just one visit and leave with attractive tooth-colored restorations that same day! Nervous patients don’t have to experience multiple dental appointments, and even better, in some cases CEREC treatments are more affordable than traditional treatments.
What Happens in a CEREC Restoration?
• First, your dentist will get rid of any tooth decay and make a divergent occlusal axial wall, which widens the opening of the tooth so that it is wider than the base.
• Next, the dentist uses a special CEREC camera to get impressions of your teeth.
• The dentist looks at the digital impressions of your teeth on a screen and develops the final design for your restoration(s).
• The computer sends the design to the milling device, which sculpts the restoration design out of a piece of ceramic chosen to match your natural tooth color.
• After 15-20 minutes have passed, the restoration, which could be a crown, veneer, inlay, onlay, or bridge, is complete and ready to be placed inside the patient’s mouth and bonded to the natural tooth. Since it is made of compressed porcelain instead of laboratory-layered porcelain, it is very strong and durable.
• The dentist will insert the new restoration into your mouth to make sure that the fit is just right. If it fits, the restoration will be polished in preparation for final placement.
• Then, the dentist will cement the ceramic restoration into place.