CAD stands for computer-aided design. CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing/milling.
These two technologies were initially used in the manufacturing and assembly of cars, parts and precision tools. Recently, the technologies have been adapted in the dental industry to create more effective bridges, crowns, inlays, onlays and veneers. This technology is also used in the production of abutments which are used in dental implant treatment. CAD and CAM technologies allow dentists to accurately scan and examine the teeth from different angles.
Dental restorations that are made using this technology are more natural-looking and stronger than what was available before. The technologies also result in restorations that are more comfortable to wear for patients.
What is CEREC?
Many patients prefer having their restorations in a single dental visit. CEREC is one of the latest technologies that make this a possibility. With this technology, patients no longer must make several trips to the dental office to have their restorations. The impressions can be made faster, more accurately and with just the customizations required. CEREC restorations are not only designed to mimic the color of the teeth but are also made of metal-free ceramic. These restorations are not highly invasive, so they promote a healthy tooth structure. They also remain intact once applied because they are chemically bonded to your natural teeth. CEREC restorations will expand and contract just like your teeth would when you consume food at different temperature.
How does CEREC work?
CEREC uses CAD/ CAM technology to produce highly effective restorative dental devices. These restorations are produced within a short amount of time compared to other technologies. This enables patients to have their restorations in just one session.
The CEREC system has 3 main parts:
- Acquisition device: This is the part of the system with a high-quality camera that is attached to a computer. The purpose of this device is to take pictures of the tooth and make a 3D image which the dentist can use to design a proper ceramic restoration for the patient.
- Three-Dimensional CAD software: This is a software that enables the dentist to rotate the 3D model of the tooth in order to ensure that the restoration will have the perfect fit.
- Milling device: This device is used to build ceramic restorations. It shapes the block that matches the patient's natural tooth color to create restorations that are in the proper shape.
Advantages of single appointment dental care
Most dental restorations are performed in several steps that require multiple appointments before the treatment is complete. The first appointment allows the dentist to take impressions of your mouth and then mold the restorations that would be placed to fit perfectly in your mouth. A couple of weeks later, you will be required to visit the dental clinic again in order to have an injection where the dentist can remove the temporary restoration that may have been placed and install a permanent one. However, technologies like CEREC allow dental care to be offered in a single appointment. With this technology, the whole procedure can be competed at once. You don't need to get impressions and temporary restorations in that first visit. You can come for one visit and leave with the attractive dental restorations on the same day. This is an ideal treatment for nervous patients who don't like the idea of going for multiple appointments. Furthermore, CEREC restorations can be more affordable than other treatments.
What to expect during a CEREC restoration
- The dentist will start by preparing the tooth for the restoration. This can be done by getting rid of any tooth decay and make a divergent axial wall.
- The dentist will use a special CEREC camera to get impressions of your teeth.
- The dentist then reviews the digital impressions of your teeth on the screen to design the perfect restorations.
- Once the design is complete, it's sent to the milling device which sculpts the restorations using a piece of ceramic that's selected to match the colour of your natural teeth.
- The restorations, whether a crown, veneer, onlay or inlay, are usually ready in 15 to 20 minutes after which they can be placed in the patient's mouth. The restorations are usually very strong and durable since they're made of compressed porcelain.
- The new restoration will be inserted into the patient's mouth to ensure they fit properly. If the restorations are a perfect fit, they will be polished in preparation for final placement.
- The final step involves the dentist cementing the ceramic restoration into place.
The main advantages of CEREC
- They are biocompatible since they're made of metal-free ceramic
- The restorations are strong and durable
- There is no need for temporary restorations since the treatment is offered in a single visit
- There are fewer injections and less discomfort
- Preserves the natural tooth structure
- It's a minimally invasive procedure
- It's more cost-effective than some traditional treatments
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