CAD/CAM Dentistry

For individuals with missing or damaged teeth, the latest advancements in dental technology have ushered in a new era of rapid, high-quality dental restorations. Dental restoration is a broad term encompassing various types of tooth replacements, particularly dental crowns (often called caps). At our practice, we've embraced CAD/CAM dental technology to offer these innovative treatment options to our patients. CAD stands for computer-aided design, and CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing.

Whenever we craft a dental restoration, whether it's a single crown or an entire bridge or denture, the initial step involves creating a model of your mouth. Traditionally, this required taking impressions by having you bite down on a substance that resembles pudding for several minutes. However, with CAD technology, we employ a digital 3-D scanner instead. This scanner is essentially a compact handheld camera mounted on a wand, which is moved back and forth around your teeth to capture all sides

What Is CAD/CAM Dentistry

After the digital scan, the data is immediately transmitted to a specialized computer program, which automatically generates a 3-D model of your teeth. Using the tools provided by the program, the dentist can then craft a virtual replacement tooth (or teeth, for multiple-tooth restorations). By scanning the opposing teeth as well, the dentist can simulate how the restoration will fit when your teeth come together, which constitutes the computer-aided design stage of the process.

The subsequent phase involves computer-aided manufacturing. Once the design is finalized, the dentist transmits the file to an automated milling machine located right in our office. The dentist then selects a ceramic or porcelain block (usually about 1-inch square) that matches the shade of your natural teeth. This block is inserted into the milling machine, and automated drills are deployed to shape it, much like an artist carving a sculpture from marble, albeit at a much swifter pace. The diamond drill bits meticulously carve the block into the precise shape of the tooth as determined by the 3-D design.

Computer-Aided Manufacturing Improves Efficiency

CAD/CAM technology significantly enhances the efficiency, speed, and, notably, the precision of many dental restoration procedures. In traditional methods of creating a model of your mouth using impressions, molds, and casting, there's a potential for distortions that can result in slight inaccuracies. When a dental crown is crafted based on a slightly inaccurate model, there's a higher likelihood that the fit of the crown will require significant adjustments before it becomes comfortable. With CAD/CAM restorations, we achieve an excellent fit in the vast majority of cases. Thanks to this technology, we can restore your smile to its normal state faster than ever, delivering beautiful results.

For a single-tooth crown, the milling process typically takes around 10 minutes. Once the crown is completed, it is polished, and sometimes color or shine is added through glazing. Afterward, it is baked in a small oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The remarkable advantage of computer-aided manufacturing is that the entire crown fabrication process can occur while you are comfortably seated in the dental chair. This is a significant improvement compared to the past, when we had to provide patients with temporary crowns and wait for a laboratory to complete the crown, requiring a return visit at a later date.