Digital Technology in Cosmetic Dentistry

Modern Dental Technology

Dentistry, like most other fields, has seen changes in technology over the past several years, but many experienced dentists still prefer their time-tested methods for certain procedures. Cosmetic and restorative dental procedures, such as having a tooth crowned, can now be completed through faster, more automated procedures. However, digital technology cannot always match the hand crafted fit and aesthetic look of a lab-made crown.

A crown is an artificial tooth that is placed over a severely damaged, decayed, misshapen, or discoloured tooth as a cosmetic dental treatment. Crowns also protect the tooth from further damage and provide structural support, allowing the tooth to be saved rather than extracted.

Historically, getting a dental crown has involved at least two visits to a general or cosmetic dentist. At the first appointment, the patient receives a local anesthetic. The tooth that needs to be restored is filed down to make room for the crown, and an impression of the area is taken. While the crown is made in a lab, the patient has a temporary cap placed over the tooth.

During the second visit a few weeks later, the patient receives local anesthetic again to remove the temporary cap. The final crown, which is customized to match the size, bite, and tooth colour of the area is cemented into place.

Recently, the introduction of technology such as Cerec’s OmniCam means that some dentists have the ability to complete the entire dental crown treatment in a single visit. The procedure is good news for anyone who dislikes anesthetic injections or taking time away from home or work for dental appointments. Other dentists argue that the look and fit of a crown made by a specialist in a lab cannot be beat and is well worth the short wait for a better long term outcome.

Cerec works by taking a 3D digital image of the prepared tooth where the crown will be placed. The dentist designs the crown using Cerec software and then forms it in the machine’s milling unit while the patient waits. Patients considering the single visit procedure should consider that forming and colouring a natural looking crown requires a high level of skill that not all general dentists are specialised in. It can also be more difficult to achieve when opting for a machine-made vs. lab-made crown.

As with any procedure, it is best to speak to your family dentist for more information in order to decide which treatment is the best fit for your needs.

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