Happy Dentist explaining to unseen person what Cerec is.

What Is CEREC in Dentistry?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Many dental professionals now have access to powerful technology that utilizes modern computer and manufacturing processes. What exactly is CEREC? What benefits does it offer? The process may sound complicated at first, but we’re here to help break down how it works and why it’s appealing to some patients.

How CEREC Works

CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic) is a method of creating dental restorations at your dental office. These restorations are typically used to repair damage to your tooth (or teeth) from decay or injury. Some dental offices have specialized equipment that allows them to design and create restorations using a computer’s help.

Specifically, restorations are designed and created using CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing). This process means designs are made from impressions with computer software and then passed to a unit that fabricates ceramic restoration.

According to the Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care, CEREC can be used to fabricate:

  • Crowns
  • Inlays and Onlays
  • Fixed bridges
  • Veneers
  • Dental implants
  • Dentures
  • Other orthodontic appliances

CEREC has both advantages and disadvantages that could make it either a perfect fit or an option to avoid. Ultimately, it’s vital to consult a dental professional for their expert opinion on whether it’s a good choice for your individual needs.

CEREC typically entails 3 steps:

  1. After numbing and preparing the tooth that requires restoration, your dental professional scans your mouth or an impression of your mouth.
  2. Your dental professional utilizes specialized computer software to design a model of your restoration, custom-made for your teeth and mouth.
  3. The design specifications are relayed to milling or grinding equipment that makes the restoration with a high degree of accuracy. The restoration is then placed in your mouth, and necessary adjustments are made. Finally, the restoration is bonded to your tooth.

Advantages of CEREC

This approach might be especially useful to your needs as it eliminates some of the most inconvenient aspects of oral procedures. For example, creating a crown without CEREC would typically require creating an impression to send out to a laboratory and placing a temporary crown. This process requires waiting for days or weeks and multiple dental visits.

CEREC boasts some incredible advantages:

  • Dental work that typically requires multiple visits can be created and placed in a single appointment. This can be incredibly convenient for many as it limits the disruption to your schedule and the stress of multiple dental visits.
  • The fabrication created by the milling or grinding unit is typically very accurate and allows your dental professional to maintain more control over the process.
  • Completing the permanent restoration in a single appointment avoids the need for temporary solutions. It can be stressful to care for temporary fixes, and you’re more at risk for some dental problems while you have them.

Potential Disadvantages

While CEREC offers exciting benefits (who wouldn’t prefer one visit over two?), no single solution is right for everybody. Some patients may find that their dental practice cannot offer this type of service, that it isn’t a good fit for their dental problem, or is too costly.

Potential downsides of CEREC:

  • Because the technology requires specialized equipment and training, many dental practices do not offer this type of restoration.
  • Costs associated with this type of restoration may be higher than solutions requiring multiple visits or sending impressions out to laboratories.
  • Due to the fabrication process, choosing this type of restoration may limit your choice of materials.

CEREC offers some exciting benefits, especially for those looking to limit their number of dental appointments. Remember that only a dental professional can make the final call if this technology is a good fit for your needs. You’ve now gained an understanding of what CEREC is and what it can do for you.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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