CEREC technology is a recent development in dentistry that aims to provide patients with precise and durable restorations made of either ceramic or metal. This is made possible by the miniaturization of high definition image capturing devices and precise milling machines as well as advances in designing software. That is why it is also commonly referred to as cadcam dentistry.

What are the benefits of cadcam dentistry?

The main advantage of cadcam dentistry is in its ability to fabricate high quality, customised restorations in a short period of time – in as little as 10 minutes. This means that patients are now able to receive their dental crowns, veneers, inlays, onlays or bridges in a single visit, eliminating the need for repeated visits, uncomfortable dental impressions and the use of temporary restorations in between.

While patients are grateful for its aesthetics, efficiency and comfort; dentists laud its ability to allow for more conservative tooth preparations, which preserves healthy natural teeth structure.  Research suggests that today’s milled cadcam restorations are stronger, has better margin adaptation and less likely to fracture when compared to traditional dental fillings.

What will the dentist do?

The dentist starts by removing decayed areas of the teeth. He subsequently prepares the remaining tooth structure to ensure that it comply with strict guidelines. Once satisfied, your dentist will use a handheld scanning device to capture the prepared tooth, adjacent teeth and opposing teeth in three dimensions. The dentist then uses proprietary cad software to design the restoration. The amount of time taken may vary depending on his skill, experience, and complexity of the restoration. Some cases would require only a few minutes, while others could require up to half an hour or more to ensure quality.

Once finalized, the design information is transmitted to a milling unit to mill the restoration from a block of ceramic or metal block in a milling chamber. Milled restorations can thereafter be polished, stained, glazed and fired in an oven to create the final restoration.

How does the dentist know what type of material to use?

The materials used in cadcam dentistry have evolved significantly over the last 3 decades, allowing for restorations that are highly aesthetic, strong or a combination of both. The choice of material will hinge on the location of the tooth and loading forces that the restoration will be subjected to as well as your expectations.

Limitation of cadcam dentistry.

The use of cadcam restorations is limited by the complexity of the restoration and shade of your natural dentition. Long span dental bridges involving multiple abutment teeth preparations, have multiple opposing teeth and require reinforcement are best designed and fabricated conventionally with the help of a dental laboratory technician.

Restorations that require extensive natural characterization or staining to match adjacent teeth are also best fabricated in a dental laboratory. Patients are strongly encouraged to discuss their particular situation and desires with their dentist, to facilitate shared decision making in determining the most appropriate method.

Special Considerations for cadcam dentistry

Cadcam technology is not a replacement for the skill and acumen provided by a dentist or dental laboratory technician. Dentists must be precise in creating the initial tooth preparation and accurate when scanning as well as designing the restoration. All this are critical stages needed in the fabrication of a well-fitting and functional restoration that is easy to maintain and care for.

It is important to note that not every tooth can be treated with a cadcam restoration. Your dentist will be able to share with you the pros and cons of cadcam restorations versus conventional laboratory made restorations prior to embarking on treatment.

What is the cost of cadcam restorations

The cost of cadcam restorations are similar to conventional laboratory made restorations, both of which are more expensive when compared to traditional dental fillings. There is no additional fee to have a restoration placed in one visit as opposed to two. Insurance reimbursement is similar for both same day cadcam restorations and laboratory fabricated restorations.