CAD/CAM Technology and CEREC
Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is a technology that has been utilized in the manufacturing industry for many years. Dentists and dental lab technicians are now making increasing use of CAD/CAM technology to manufacture dental restorations in a more efficient manner than the traditional lab-fabricated restorations. They result in dental inlays and onlays, crowns, and bridges that are more durable, well-fitted, and accurate in shape and size.
CAD/CAM technology allows for highly accurate design of the features of a tooth restoration on a computer. Your dentist uses a cursor to draw the restoration on a 3-D custom image of your teeth and gums displayed on the CAD/CAM computer screen. The CAD/CAM machine then follows the drawing to construct the restoration through a milling chamber.
Advantages of CAD/CAM Technology
A few advantages of CAD/CAM technology are that it eliminates the need to create a molded impression of your teeth, and does not require a temporary restoration to be constructed and placed. If your dentist does not have the technology in the office, but at a dental lab, you will need to return for a second visit to have your restoration placed.
A high level of skill and expertise is still required of the dentist or dental lab technician, even with the use of CAD/CAM technology. Tooth preparation, impression, and fitting of the dental restorations need to be precisely performed. For instance, if a dental crown is not well-fitted, it may leave a space between the teeth or between the tooth preparation and the crown, which may result in higher risk of infection or teeth shifting.
Previously, restorations manufactured without metal typically were not as strong and durable as those containing metal. However, more recent use of porcelain ceramics in the milling chamber results in restorations that are high in strength, durability, and esthetic value. Zirconia is another durable material more recently used. CAD/CAM technology is not necessarily suitable for all procedures using porcelain.
Not all dentists have experience with CAD/CAM technology. Some dentists may believe that the traditional method of using a molded impression still provides highly accurate and well-fitted tooth restorations.
The leading company in producing CAD-CAM technology is CEREC. According to CEREC, its acquisition center that allows dental professionals access to CAD/CAM technology has the highest precision, ease of use, and speed than any other system available. Dentists may have access to the most advanced digital dental technologies, processes and procedures available.
CEREC’s equipment occupies minimal floor space, yet has a large 19-inch screen to allow viewing of images.
CEREC’s milling capabilities produce precise results, fast production (six minutes milling time for a full–contour crown), better fit, and smoother restoration surface. Patients benefit from procedures that are convenient and minimally invasive, and restorations that are highly esthetic. The material CEREC uses to manufacture the dental restorations is the best feldspar ceramic worldwide, characterized by durability, strength, and ideal esthetics. According to CEREC, the software involved is Sirona’s patented 3D Biogeneric software, the reliability of which has been proven over 23 years by 22,000 users and 300 clinical studies.
Cost of CAD/CAM Technology
Several factors influence the cost of having a restoration manufactured with CAD/CAM technology. These include the kind of dental restoration required, the material selected, the focus of the dentist, the dentist’s location, cosmetic needs, and type of your dental insurance. CAD/CAM restorations may cost more if the technology is located in the dentist’s office, and if the materials used are more expensive than traditional materials.