Shaping Dentistry with CAD/CAM Technology
CAD/CAM technology has been used in manufacturing for many years. CAD/CAM is an acronym that means computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing. Today, CAD/CAM technology is used in dentistry to help dentists and dental lab technicians fabricate precise shapes and sizes for dental restorations, including crowns, dental implant crowns and bridges.
Dentists use CAD/CAM technology to provide their patients with durable, well-fitted single and multiple tooth restorations in a more efficient manner than traditional lab-fabricated restorations. Another advantage of CAD/CAM technology is that it can allow a typical two-visit tooth restoration to be accomplished in one visit. In some cases this means a tooth restoration can be prepared and completed all in one day.
Dentists use CAD/CAM technology to design the anatomical features, size and shape of a tooth restoration on a computer. The CAD/CAM computer screen displays a 3-D custom image of your teeth and gums, allowing your dentist to draw the precise design of the tooth restoration. The CAD/CAM machine fabricates the restoration through a milling machine that crafts the tooth-like ceramic material into a precise replica of the drawing.
The Advantages of CAD/CAM Technology
One of the advantages of CAD/CAM technology is that, provided the CAD/CAM equipment is located in the dental office, your dentist does not need to create a molded impression of your teeth. Secondly, is no need for a temporary restoration or a return visit to the office for a permanent restoration.
Previously, it has been difficult to offer high levels of tooth restoration strength without using metals, such as titanium or gold restorations. However, today’s porcelain ceramics work very well in the milling machine, providing strength, durability, and a high esthetic value. Furthermore, today’s materials such as zirconium may be more “fracture resistant” than those of the past. Although CAD/CAM is an exciting technology, it is not necessarily applicable to all procedures requiring porcelain.
Be aware that not all dentists have experience with CAD/CAM technology. In fact, some dentists may find it difficult to imagine why a wax molded impression that fills every tooth crevice should be replaced by CAD/CAM technology.