When you have a severely decayed, cracked, or otherwise damaged tooth, you’re probably going to end up needing to have a dental crown put on it. Many people get them after having a root canal done. Dental crowns are caps made out of a variety of materials, including porcelain, ceramic, metal, or resin, which are cemented in place over what’s left of your natural tooth. They look and function like normal teeth and can be expected to last for many years. However, the process of getting a traditional crown put in can be a bit of an ordeal. Typically, this starts with a consultation to determine if and why the crown is necessary, or if there might be other viable options. If you decide to go ahead with getting a crown, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth in order to create a mold to send to a dental laboratory. Your dentist may fit you with a temporary crown at this point, to wear while your permanent crown is being created.
The problem with getting a traditional crown is that, in addition to having to endure several visits to the dental chair for the molding, the installation and removal of the temporary crown, and the placement of the permanent crown, the length of time between the initial visit and the final placement creates opportunities for problems to crop up. You may have issues with the temporary crown slipping out of place or falling off, and if the permanent crown doesn’t look right or fit properly, you might have to go through the whole process all over again. In recent years, more and more dentists have been addressing these potential problems with CEREC technology. CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics,” and it refers to a method of creating permanent same day crowns using computer-aided design and manufacturing, allowing them to measure, shape, and produce dental crowns right in their own office.
Check out this before and after photo to see how a CEREC Crown can change your smile!
The CEREC process starts by taking digital scans of your tooth, which are imported into a computer program that allows the dentist to adjust and finalize the design of your crown. The 3D digital model of your crown is then sent to a milling machine that shapes the actual crown out of a single block of porcelain. The look and fit of the crown can be verified on the spot, and the entire process of getting your dental crown takes place in a single day. That means less time taken up with dental appointments, less risk to your teeth, fewer out of pocket costs, and assurance that you’ll walk out of your dentist’s office fully satisfied with your new crown.
Aside from the convenience factor, there are good reasons to believe that CEREC crowns have significant advantages over traditional, laboratory-made crowns. CEREC crowns are made from digital scans, whereas traditional crowns are molded out of physical impressions taken of your teeth. Subtle movements, saliva buildup, the quality of the impression material, and human error from the dental assistant taking the impression can all lead to a crown that doesn’t fit or feel right. Once the laboratory gets to work, there are further opportunities for variances in operator skill to result in less-than-perfect results. CEREC milling machines automate the process, leading to far greater degrees of precision.
On the other hand, there are some dentists who believe that CEREC crowns can’t match the aesthetic quality of a crown created by a master technician in a laboratory environment. This may be subjective, and it may not be a priority concern for all patients, but it’s worth keeping in mind. If you’re getting highly visible front teeth replaced, you may want a touch of human artistry to get the look and coloration just right. A good dentist will listen to your needs and concerns and help you choose the restoration method that suits you best.
A dental implant is something you’re going to have for a very long time, and you’re going to be making do a lot of important work for you: biting, chewing, smiling, all that important tooth business. Make sure you take the time to talk to your dentist before you start the ball rolling on any procedure so that you fully understand what’s being done, and why, and if you’re certain you’re going with the best option out of all the ones that are available to you. In many cases, you might find that when you’re looking at getting a dental crown placed, same day CEREC crowns are by far the easiest, most cost-effective solution.