We live in the digital age. Our daily lives revolve around and can even be dependent on technology. Some of the stuff that “they” have come up with is truly amazing. You could, right this minute, hop on your smartphone and buy a 3D printer from Amazon. With said printer, you could make yourself all sorts of useful and amusing gadgets seemingly out of thin air. One-visit crowns belong to that realm of mind-blowing technology.
You may or may not be familiar with crowns, but here’s a brief refresher anyway:
Say a tooth has a large filling and gets a new cavity or a piece of the tooth cracks. Or maybe the tooth has had a root canal and is at risk of cracking. Usually the best treatment is to place a crown, or cap, on the tooth to restore its contours and function. Traditionally, this means that a patient will have a temporary crown placed on the tooth for a few weeks while a dental lab makes the final crown.
There is an alternative and futuristic option for crowns on par with 3D printers. It is truly amazing technology. CEREC or Cerec (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CEramic REConstruction) is a method of CAD/CAM dentistry.
There are several types of one-visit crowns but they all work in a similar fashion. The actual crown preparation part is more or less the same: we remove the decay and shape the tooth into a rounded peg with space on all sides for the crown, usually 1-2 millimeters.
What happens next is the amazing part. We use a 3D scanner to take detailed images of the prepared tooth in the mouth and build a 3D model on a computer. We tell the computer what settings we want and send that data to a milling unit, which is near the front desk in our office. Think of a milling unit as the opposite of a 3D printer; it cuts the crown out of a block of tooth-colored material rather than building it out of thin air.
This milling process usually takes about 10 minutes. After that, we check the fit of the crown on the tooth and polish it to a high shine. We then glue the crown in place and that’s it! No need to come back for a second visit to put the crown on. Technology is amazing, isn’t it?
One-visit crowns don’t work in every scenario, like when people have very strong bites, grind their teeth a lot, or have unique color patterns on their teeth. If we recommend a crown for one of your teeth, ask us if a one-visit crown may be an option for you!
If you’re curious what the milling process looks like, check out this short video:
– from Dr. Garrett Clause