In 2012 we invested in our first CAD-CAM dental restoration system manufactured by E4D Technologies, LLC (now part of Planmeca). Dr. Albers received in-office training and traveled out of state to learn how to use this innovative technology. It allows us to offer restorations such as same day crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, made at our office in one appointment. Our patients love the convenience and quality of same day dentistry.
What is CAD-CAM, or Same Day Dentistry?
CAD stands for computer-aided design. CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing. With our same day dentistry system, Dr. Albers uses special tools and software to scan, design, and mill restorations, all within several hours.
CAD-CAM dentistry involves the following steps, some the same and some of which are different than what we used to do:
- Anesthesia: Dr. Albers numbs the area around the involved tooth/teeth.
- Tooth Preparation: Dr. Albers uses a dental drill to remove damaged areas of the tooth and to prepare it for a restoration.
- Intraoral Scanning: Before CAD-CAM dentistry, dentists used impression material to create an impression of the prepared tooth. Impressions were sent to a dental lab where restorations were made. With our system, Dr. Albers uses a special laser scanner to scan the prepared tooth, generating a digital image of it.
- Design: Our system’s software captures the digital image and Dr. Albers then designs the restoration – often while patients watch. Each restoration is custom made for the tooth and patient.
- Dental Mill: Instead of sending an impression to an outside dental lab, Dr. Albers saves, then transmits his restoration design to our in-office milling unit. The mill creates the restoration from a ceramic block of material, generally within 15 minutes.
- Customization: Dr. Albers takes the restoration, tries it in, and makes any necessary adjustments. Then, he stains and glazes the restoration and places it into a special kiln where it is fired to harden it.
- Cementation: After the restoration is complete, Dr. Albers uses a bonding material to permanently attach the restoration to the tooth.
Same Day Crowns v. Traditional Crowns
One of the biggest benefits of same day dentistry is that patients can receive restorations in one appointment. Usually, the appointment is completed within two to three hours. Because everything happens in-house, adjustments are easily made without having to send a restoration back to a dental lab.
We Still Do Traditional Restorations
There are times when Dr. Albers still recommends the traditional method of preparing a restoration. For instance, if he feels that a gold crown is appropriate (especially molars), he will take a traditional impression and send it to a dental lab. Or, sometimes patients require more involved customization of a high aesthetic restoration. In most cases, though, patients enjoy the convenience of receiving a high quality restoration in one appointment.