It used to be that a dental patient needing a crown had to go through several weeks of waiting and two to three visits to the dental chair, in order to eventually leave with that crown. Imagine being able to walk in to the dental office, sit down in the chair to get impressions taken, and then have the crown custom-made while you wait. This has already become a reality through Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is a relatively new technological addition to the dental field. CAD takes the dimensions of the tooth to be treated, which have been inputted into the computer, and creates an accurately measured computerized model image of the crown to be placed on the affected tooth. Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the next generation addition to CAD technology, which takes that image and actually commands a robotic laser to cut the crown out of a disk of resin, porcelain, or a chrome-cobalt blend.
With these advances in dental technology, dentists can now offer same-day dental crown services rather than requiring patients to wait for weeks wearing a temporary crown. When the CAD/CAM technology was first applied, in the hopes of achieving same-day crown replacement, the technology was too new, cumbersome, and challenging to use. But with continued improvements to the software, techniques, and materials, it has become a streamlined process.
With the amount of time that is saved by producing the crown and placing it the same day, dentists can often reduce the amount of tooth removal they do in preparation for the crown. This can yield better and more reliable results as the crown bonds better to the natural enamel of the tooth. Thus, if more of the natural tooth can be preserved, the new crown will take better in the bonding process.
Composites of resin or blocks of ceramic are materials preferred, over metal, to produce crowns. These crowns resemble the color of the tooth being restored, unlike the metals sometimes used. Then, staining and glazing is fired onto the milled crown to make it look more like a natural tooth. Once the crown is ready, it can be placed into the patient’s mouth, where some minor drilling can be done for final adjustments.
The end result is a crown with sure placement, proper coloring, and accurate shaping. And with the convenience of on-site same-day placement, the patient leaves a whole lot happier than he or she would have with a temporary crown and a long wait. The dentist who utilizes CAD/CAM technology to offer same-day crown placement provides a service that saves time and frustration for the patient.