Comparing CEREC Crowns to Traditional Ones
One of our greatest assets is a great smile. It can be the single most captivating part of us that we present to the public, and it can transform a face from average to beautiful.
It is the welcome, it is the joy, it is the invitation that can be seen across a crowded room, but a great smile demands great teeth. If you are someone who is self-conscious about your smile—who puts your hand up to cover your mouth when you smile or laugh, you are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures—sharing yourself with others.
Your Options for a Great Smile
Most people have had fillings. The dentist removes the area of decay and, based on a number of factors, decides what would be the best filling material. Drilling is typically limited to the area of the decay, and the filling is virtually always completed in one trip to the dentist.
This is a matter of fixing a smaller area in what is otherwise a healthy tooth and is not viewed as a cosmetic procedure.
There are, however, four other types of cosmetic and restorative procedures that can improve or correct less-than-attractive or damaged teeth:
- Crowns – The crown of a tooth is what we generally think of as the tooth itself. It is the part covered by enamel that grows out of the gums. A restorative crown completely encases the whole, visible part of the tooth. It is the thickest of the possible “caps” and requires the most removal of the tooth to place.
- Veneers – Veneers are thinner than crowns and do not encase the whole tooth. They can be applied just to the front of a tooth to correct discoloration, reshape a tooth, realign crooked teeth, or even close a gap between teeth. Because it is thinner than a crown, preparing a tooth for a veneer is less invasive than preparing a tooth for a crown and requires less grinding down of the existing tooth.
- Inlays – Inlays are similar to fillings, in that only the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth is removed. They are used to repair larger areas on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. An inlay fits in the grooves and between the cusps of the teeth, cusps being the high points or protrusions off the bottom of a tooth. Inlays can be made from porcelain, resin or gold and are usually more durable than a standard filling.
- Onlays – An onlay is also used to repair the back teeth but is larger than an inlay. It not only fits between the grooves, but comes up and over the cusps, as well, so it covers more of the tooth’s surface. Onlays are custom-crafted from porcelain, resin or gold, and are more durable than a standard filling.
Traditional Crowns vs. CEREC Crowns
There are several procedural differences between traditional crowns vs CEREC crowns, but perhaps the major difference is the time it takes to get the new crown.
Traditional crowns require two visits and, because the mold is sent to a lab, there can be as much as a two-week delay between visits.
CEREC crowns can be completed in one visit to your dentist’s office.
The start of both procedures is, basically, the same:
- Your dentist will anesthetize the area of the tooth, just as he or she would if you were getting a filling.
- The tooth that will be capped is filed down around the bottom chewing surface and in the area between it and the adjacent teeth to make room for the crown. How much of the tooth is removed depends upon its condition.
- If there’s substantial decay or damage, the tooth might have to be reshaped and built up with filling material, as well.
That’s where the similarity in procedures ends.
Using paste or putty, your dentist will make a mold of the reshaped tooth and select the color for the crown that best matches the adjacent teeth. This mold is taken by putting the impression substance into a small, arched tray and having you bite down until it hardens. This gives the impression for both the tooth being capped, as well as your “bite.” He or she will also make a temporary crown to cover and protect the reshaped tooth. This is adhered to the tooth with temporary cement.
The mold is then sent to the lab, where the crown will be custom manufactured per your dentist’s instructions, along with the mold of your teeth.
While you are wearing the temporary crown, try to chew, as much as possible, on the other side of your mouth and avoid hard foods that, like nuts or raw vegetables, and sticky foods, that could cause the cement to fail and pull the crown off the tooth.
During the second visit, your dentist will ensure the fit and color of the crown, and adhere it to the tooth, while making minor adjustments so it fits your mouth correctly.
CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restorations of Esthetic Ceramic. It is the in-house, state-of-the-art computerized, 3D technology that eliminates the “create a mold, send it to the lab and wait” portion of the process, so the entire restoration can be completed in one visit. It can be used for crowns, veneers, and inlays or onlays.
Rather than taking a mold of the tooth, your dentist coats the tooth with a non-toxic, tasteless powder, then takes a digital picture of the tooth, called an “optical impression.”
This picture is then fed into the CEREC machine, where it is converted into a 3D model that can be viewed on the computer monitor. If your dentist is satisfied with the virtual design, he or she sends that to the milling machine, which creates the actual crown or veneer that is then cemented into place—and you are done!