If you need to undergo oral surgery and receive a cosmetic restoration, such as an inlay or a crown, you may be dreading going to the dentist. However, there are some really cool computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) devices called "CEREC" devices that can get you in and out of the office in one visit.
What does CEREC stand for?
CEREC stands for "Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics." This device is gaining more and more traction in many dental offices because not only is it speedy at churning out restorations, but it is extremely precise.
In the past, if you went in for an oral surgery, you would be temporarily fitted with a false tooth or left with no tooth, while a restoration was made in a lab by a dental technician. But with these kinds of CAD/CAM machines, the restoration is made out of a ceramic block in less than hour and placed. In fact, one journal found that these restorations were better-made than those in traditional labs. Because the technology for these devices is so accurate, many patients are happy to find that their bite doesn't feel so different, and they may not need any adjustments.
How Does it Work?
When you go in for your procedure, your dentist will use a handheld infrared camera to pick up every detail of your teeth and gums. Because the camera enters this information into the CAD/CAM device's 3D software, this means that you won't need to get any molds taking with putty!
Once the 3D models are correct in the device, he or she will stick a ceramic block (or similar material) into the machine's milling unit. The milling unit plugs in the data from the 3D camera's measurement and cuts the restoration in-office. Once it is complete, the machine also polishes and paints it. Again, this can be done in a short amount of time (often between half an hour to an hour)
Your dentist may use local/general anesthetic before the procedure, depending on what kind of surgery you are getting. Any old amalgam fillings will be removed during this time and teeth may be shaved away to receive the restoration. Once the teeth are ready, your dentist will take the restoration (e.g. abutment for implant, crown, inlay, onlay, etc.) from the CAD/CAM machine and bond it to your teeth.
Since CAM/CAD devices make oral surgeries and restorations take less time and are incredibly precise, it's worth it for you to talk to your dentist about this option.