The evolution of the dental industry in the past few years has been amazing. Almost all the fields of dentistry have seen new technologies that developed recently. One of these incredible achievements is the development of the CEREC machines, also known as CAD\CAM technology.
The CEREC machine is a milestone in the prosthodontic department of dentistry. Through the use of this machine, dentists are now able to make one day crowns, which as the name suggests, are crowns that the patient can receive in one visit, in the same day, without having to go through the hassle of waiting a few days to get their crowns, or having to take time off work to schedule another appointment. Now, the patient can go to the dentist once and have all the work completed before he\she leaves.
In the old days, crowns were made in a different manner. After diagnosis and planning, the dentist would prepare the tooth to receive the crown by removing a small part (about 1 to 2 mm) from all the surfaces. After that, he would use a gel like material to take a replica (also known as an impression) of the prepared tooth and the surrounding teeth, and also of the opposing teeth to properly design the shape and length of the crown to fit the tooth. This impression is then sent to the lab, and the prepared tooth is covered by a temporary cover until the lab returns the final crown. Through a series of processes that include wax, metal and porcelain, the lab manufactures the crown for the exact shape of the prepared tooth and sends it back to the dentist, who then glues it to the tooth to be covered.
With CEREC, the process is quite different. The planning and preparation phases are the same as the conventional method, but instead of using the gooey gel-like material to take the replica, the dentist would use a highly specialized intraoral camera to record the shape of the tooth to be covered, along with the neighboring teeth, the opposing teeth, and the manner by which the patient bites, all in a single quick step, which improves comfort and decreased the problems that occur with using regular impressions such as gagging and discomfort.
After that, there is no need to involve the lab at all, since this camera is linked to a specialized computer program that is able to literally draw the crown to fit the tooth using specific measurements and instruction, and this eliminates all the guess work that the lab has to do, and minimizes human error so the crown will fit the tooth exactly, with no chance of being too small, too short or too large.
This computer is in turn linked to a specialized milling machine, that takes that drawn shape and mills it out of a block of metal or porcelain. This again eliminates all the errors that could occur when the conventional method is used, such as shrinkage of the material during setting and chipping and voids in the metal or porcelain.
So to sum it up, the entire process from beginning to end is done in one place, and takes about 2 hours. You could walk in the door, and walk out a couple of hours later with your finalized crown, and that’s it…. No temporaries, no waiting and no second appointment. Not only that, you would receive a crown that is far superior and far more accurate than the ones done through conventional means.