In retrospective dental clinical cases, restorations have played a rather unique role in alleviating pain and discomfort for the patients. A standard restoration may take up to a few appointments to complete which is the first major flaw that overshadows traditional restorative dentistry. As dentists, it gets exhausting to work on complex dental restorations as it would the patient to keep booking appointments to see their dentists every other day. Surprisingly, however, studies indicate that about 1.2 billion restorations need to get replaced every 10 years or so. This never-ending dental loop of monotonous push-and-pull interferes with the efficacy and convenience of the patients. As a result, in September 1985, at the Zurich Dental School, the first chairside ceramic restoration was placed with the CEREC 1 system using CAD/CAM technology. Many dentists critically acclaim this concept of restorative dentistry and have implemented it into their practice.
CEREC crowns last between 5 and 15 years, like a traditional crown. If a patient has dental insurance, the CEREC crowns typically range between $500 and $1,700.
What is CEREC?
CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics” and essentially is a computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) system for dentists to take impressions quicker and be able to generate an accurate, well-fitted ceramic restoration. CEREC subtly combines a computer, a camera, and a milling system all in one unit to create a machine that works methodically in perfect synchrony to deliver quality dental restorations to the patients. The CEREC system that is in use today has progressed mostly thorough a series of software and hardware upgrades since its introduction. Over the course of 35 years, this revolutionary concept for restorative dentistry has evolved from a 2D design program to a three-dimensional speed with a leveling guide to increase the memory of the computers that saw a massive improvement.
The implementation of the 3D software substantially improved the functional load of the CEREC system, making it easier for dentists to view the designs in a way similar to what they are used to seeing with stone models. The 3D design of CEREC has also improved the clinical workflow, making it a comprehensive dental process to generate data and deliver restorations all on the same day. CEREC’s unique feature in dental CAD/CAM technology enables the dentist to capture the tooth preparation in the patient’s mouth and at the same time create and seat a ceramic restoration in a single appointment. CEREC technology has become an integral part of the dental industry.
When is the CEREC system indicated?
The CEREC system helps dentists fix unsightly teeth by incorporating an easy restorative program that works for a majority of dental restorations. According to a review in the Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care, there are three common restoration profiles that the CEREC system accomplishes:
- Crowns: A crown is a dental “cap” placed over the entire tooth to restore the shape, size, and appearance of a broken or chipped tooth or to support a tooth with a large filling.
- Veneers: A veneer is an ultra-thin dental shell placed on the front of the tooth to improve appearance. It works for teeth that are discolored, misaligned, or irregularly shaped. Veneers can also restore minor chips in teeth.
- Inlays and Onlays: Teeth that are too weak to support a dental filling may be treated with inlays and onlays. An onlay is a restoration that covers the cusps of the teeth whereas an inlay covers the space between the cusps.
How are CEREC restorations fabricated?
CEREC in collaboration with CAD/CAM digital system is a cutting-edge technology used to reconstruct tooth restorations and to offer single-day restorations for the patients. The process of dental restoration fabrication involves the following steps:
- Exam and preparation: Initially, the dentist determines whether the CEREC system is appropriate for the particular patient. The prognosis for dental restoration is dependent on the teeth structures available. Depending on the amount of remaining healthy tooth structure, the dentist decides one either a simple filling, dental crown, bridge, or an onlay/inlay. After analyzing the options, the dentist begins the process by administering anesthetic and preparing the tooth for restoration. Decay material and weakened tooth structures are removed.
- The optical Impression: In order to accomplish the desired restoration, a 3D image of the tooth is pertinent to visualize the areas of hard and soft tissue compressions. A 3D image is created from a digital scan of the tooth. In order to replicate the dentition of the patient, a CEREC Omni-cam is used. By simply gliding this intraoral camera over the teeth, a full-color 3D model of the teeth is generated. Because of the slim design of the camera, scanning even the rear molars becomes very convenient.
- The design: The CEREC Acquisition Unit houses a medical grade computer and the CEREC camera. By using the CEREC software, an accurate restoration for the teeth can be designed. The dentist receives a high-quality life-like draft of the restoration that allows them to rework or even directly transfer them to the milling unit. Therefore the dentist is able to design the restoration easier and quicker without compromising precision and aesthetics.
- The milling process: Following the design process, the dentist simply fabricates the restoration by placing a ceramic block in the milling unit. The CEREC software and the milling unit work closely with each other. Even the smallest fissures or alterations are worked perfectly by the finest CEREC milling tools.
- The seating: After finalizing the restoration, it is seated into the patient’s mouth to ensure a proper fit and bite. When ready, the restoration is polished and bonded onto the patient’s teeth. There is no need for temporaries while the patient awaits the final dental restoration. Try-in is done the same day as the final seating.
Benefits of CEREC restorations
The CEREC system is a technological marvel that is superior to the traditional methods of restorative dental procedures in numerous ways. This comprehensive system allows the dentist to eliminate tedious and time-consuming steps in the restorative process. According to the Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care review, the CEREC system is a vital part of advanced dentistry and offers many tantalizing benefits.
- Quick delivery: One of the most important reasons for the rapid popularity of this particular restoration style is its one-day delivery convenience. Within just two hours, the entire process can be done and the patient can go home with their new teeth. There is no need to return for try-ins or final restoration fit.
- Stronger material: CEREC restorations are favored for being truly long-term. The all-ceramic material used for these restorations has high strength properties and is durable. A study in the International Journal of Computerized Dentistry showed that 87.5% of CEREC inlays and onlays lasted over 27 years of use.
- Biocompatible material: The ceramic used in these CEREC restorations is biocompatible with the mouth, which means it is non-toxic and non-allergic.
- Better fit and comfort: With the help of the intraoral camera and the CEREC software, it allows for precision and accuracy in restoring the details of the mouth and enables the crown to be well-fitted and exact. As indicated by a study in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, CAD/CAM restorations exhibited clinically acceptable marginal discrepancy ranges.
- No need for temporaries: Using the CEREC system, the final restorations can be delivered in a single day and there is thus no need for temporaries that are often weak and can easily fall off.
- Superior esthetics: The look of the CEREC restorations makes it the best option for restoring damaged or clinically undesirable teeth. The all-ceramic design makes for a natural-looking tooth that can boost the confidence of the patients.
- Reduced manpower: The dentist can eliminate the expenses associated with outsourcing to a dental laboratory for the fabrication of each restoration. This technology reduces the need for extra work and can be fabricated from start to finish in the dentist’s office.
With over 250 scientific studies confirming the reliability of this state-of-the-art technology, and over a million positive testimonials from first-hand recipients and dentists who have used and approved of this dental miracle, the CEREC system remains one of the best ways for the dentist to fabricate stunning smiles for their patients. In fact, this futuristic design is so popular and convenient that about 91% of patients recommend their dentist!