Just as in any other industry, dentistry utilizes a variety of technologies to make procedures safer and more efficient. One example is CAD/CAM technology.
Dental procedures such as bridges and crowns require the use of impressions in order to customize the fit to a patient’s mouth. In the past, these impressions were taken using a material that hardens around the area of the mouth being treated. Though it produced satisfactory impressions, the material could be messy and some patients found it inconvenient.
Taking impressions digitally allows a dentist to create a virtual, computer-aided replica of the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. This produces clear and highly-accurate impression data without the need for the messy impressions traditionally used.
The design produced from digital impressions can then be used by a milling or printing unit to manufacture the restoration or device. Restorations are a metal-free and tooth-colored ceramic that help restore the tooth (or teeth) to its natural beauty, function, and strength.
This advanced dental restorative system can be used to restore decayed teeth, place crowns, remove defective amalgam fillings, or place cosmetic veneers. In the past, this would have taken at least two appointments – one to take the impression and another one later on once the dental restoration was ready. With this technology, however, restorations can be completed in just one visit.
CAD/CAM technology is available through medical-grade computers and cameras. The camera is used to take a digital impression of the prepared tooth (or teeth). The computer takes this impression and puts it through 3D software to convert the digital picture to a three-dimensional virtual model. The dentist can then design the restoration right on screen while you wait and watch. This usually takes about five minutes, at the end of which time the design date is communicated to the milling unit.