A Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics or – CEREC crown for short – is a relatively new field of dentistry that allows the dentist to produce evermore natural, and functional ceramic crowns in order to give patients a better, lifelike smile.
It’s true that the creation and placement of a custom-dental crown is one of the most commonly performed procedures in dentistry today. Unlike inlays and onlays which fit into, and onto parts of the tooth to add further protection, dental crowns cover the entire tooth.
Typically, both traditional and CEREC crowns are ideal for teeth which are heavily decayed or damaged and are also commonly used as routine finishes for procedures such as root canal therapy or dental implants.
However, anyone who has had a standard crown fitted will know hat it can be a time-consuming process that usually takes several or more weeks to complete.
CEREC Crowns – A timely difference
With CEREC crowns, however, the entire process can significantly be shortened.
Normally, impressions are taken and the cast is sent off to a centralised dental laboratory to be made into a fully-functioning, lifelike tooth. Understandably, this can take several weeks for the lab to receive the impression, make the tooth and send it back. Then, of course, it needs to be fitted. Although some patients may receive a temporary crown while they wait, it isn’t always an ideal situation.
The biggest advantage of a CEREC crown is that a restoration can be designed and milled right here in our dental clinics. Using the latest CAD/CAM technology and state-of-the-art milling equipment, patients receive a perfect bespoke crown in just one single visit!
While CEREC crowns are a speedy alternative, is efficiency really the only advantage of the CEREC crown system?
In a word, no! However to see the other advantages this type of crown has, we really need to understand the processes involved.
So how does a CEREC crown work?
Usually, lab-manufactured crowns require you to have a physical impression. For patients, this means having to bite down on gooey alginate for a lengthy period of time. This can be both messy and uncomfortable. In some instances, for patients with a low gag reflex, it can also be a really unpleasant experience.
On the contrary, with CEREC crowns any impression is taken digitally using a scanner. During a quick and comfortable process, it takes a 3D image of the area which is then fed into a computer program. From there, a 3D milling machine located at the dental practice uses that image to cut out or ‘mill’ an exact replica of the patient’s dentition.
Once milled, the CEREC crown is then taken, fitted, and polished up to match your existing teeth – all on the same day.
CEREC crowns – pinpoint accuracy, every time.
One of the biggest issues with traditional crowns over CEREC crowns is accuracy.
If you think about it for a minute – there are too many variables that can cause a lab-made crown to be incorrect or inaccurate.
Firstly there is the messy business of impression taking. The perfect dental crown relies on the complete accuracy of the impression being taken. This in itself depends on a number of factors including:
- The quality of the impression material being used
- The willingness of the patient to cooperate
- Whether a custom fabricated tray is being used – a one-size-fits-all impression tray might not give the exact fit needed.
- The amount of saliva in the mouth which may or may not distort the impression.
- The skill of the dentist taking the impression.
Even if everything aligns (which is often very doubtful) the end result still won’t be as accurate as a 3d scanner taking images for CEREC crowns.
The impression taking aspect is only the first step – then there’s the modelling process.
Unlike a CEREC crown, traditional lab-fabricated crowns are first made using a powder and water mix. This is combined together and poured into the impression mould and creates a stone-like cast. In most cases, there will be a variance in the mix. This can cause problems when it comes to replicating bite accuracy of the patient’s jaws and teeth.
If that isn’t enough, the technician has to then melt hot wax onto the newly made cast of the model to create the new crown/crowns. Again, results may vary depending upon the pouring skills of the individual creating the crown.
As you can see there are so many processes that can and do go wrong.
What about CEREC crowns?
CEREC crowns are made in such a way that they eliminate any potential flaws. Scans are accurate to within one-tenth of a millimetre and from there, images are simply fed into a computer program and the CEREC crown is replicated exactly in as little as 5 minutes. The human element of the making/manufacturing process has now been removed.
Because CEREC crowns and the technology behind them are unbelievably accurate, the crown normally needs zero adjustments. This is perfect for those patients needing multiple crowns where there really is no room for error.
So now you know how CEREC crowns are made, the question is – are they suitable for you?
The truth is that different situations may require different types of crowns and as such, a CEREC crown may not be ideal for every situation. Despite the fact that CEREC crowns are milled from ceramic which is then baked in the oven, other crown materials such as
- All metal
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM)
…may be better suited to an individual’s circumstances.
For example, all-metal crowns are long-lasting and less likely to fracture or chip. They are often used when the crown position is out of the immediate smile line as they are made from gold alloy, nickel, chromium or palladium, but unfortunately, they are all very visible in the mouth so they lack tremendously in aesthetics.
Ceramic CEREC crowns, on the other hand, are far more lifelike and are ideal for protecting teeth located within the smile line; but although designs are getting better, they aren’t yet as durable as many all-metal varieties. That said because a CEREC crown is primarily placed in the smile line, more often than not, they don’t need to be.
So there you have it… Now you know everything you need to know about CEREC crowns and how a CEREC crown works – isn’t it about time you talked to No Gaps Dental?
We’re a multi-location dental group who pride ourselves on offering convenient and affordable modern dentistry. Call us on 02 8007 6727 or visit us online to book a consultation at a clinic of your choosing.