CAD/CAM Dentistry: What Is It?

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CAD CAM dentistry is an innovation in dentistry and prosthodontics that first appeared in 1985, according to a review published by the Journal of Prosthodontic Research (JPR). Since then, the technology has only advanced, revolutionizing restoration dentistry for professionals and patients alike. Learn more about the technology and how it may impact your restorative dentistry appointment.

Understanding CAD/CAM Dentistry

Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) are terms describing software that make it possible for dentists to perform complex procedures faster, more easily and more accurately, says the JPR. CAD/CAM technology constructs restorations, like crowns, veneers, inlays, onlays and bridges, from a single block of ceramics, which makes the final product more precise compared to traditional fabrication methods.

What the Process Involves for CAD/CAM Dentistry

With CAD/CAM dentistry, custom 3-D images of your prepared tooth or teeth are created by digitally scanning your impressions. These scans are then used to produce a virtual design for the restorative device, which is then sent to digitally connected milling equipment. The design guides the milling machine to carve the restoration from a solid block of restorative material, explains Dentistry IQ.

Dental Economics lists the steps involved in a CAD/CAM procedure:

  1. Anesthesia
  2. Tooth preparation
  3. Intraoral scanning
  4. Restoration design
  5. Milling
  6. Sintering and polishing
  7. Cementation

All this can be done chairside in about 40 minutes to two and a half hours, estimates Dental Economics. That may sound like a long appointment, but when you consider the convenience factor of only needing to make one trip to the dentist's office, it may be worth it and shorter than if you had to return for a second appointment.

Features and Benefits of CAD/CAM Dentistry

CAD/CAM offers multiple benefits to restorative dentistry, ranging from improved accuracy to shorter waiting periods for your dental appliances, notes the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Because crowns and other restorative options no longer need to be outsourced to a laboratory, the whole process can be completed in one office visit and there's no need for a temporary restoration. The technology also eliminates several outsourcing costs, although you may have to pay for the extra time the dentist spends at your chairside.

One potential downside is that not all offices have CAD/CAM technology, and there is a steep learning curve for some professionals. Dentistry IQ notes that only 8 to 10 percent of American dental practices have an in-house CAD/CAM facility.

You can care for your new dental restorations using the same oral hygiene regimen as for your natural teeth, such as daily brushing with the Colgate 360° Total Advanced Powered toothbrush, which removes four times more bacteria than the leading battery-powered toothbrush.

Is CAD/CAM Dentistry Right for You?

Your dentist will let you know if you're a good candidate for the CAD/CAM technology. If your practitioner recommends a CAD/CAM dental procedure for you, be sure to ask for full details of the costs and benefits you can expect.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Ceaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.