The dental industry has come a long way since its earliest days.
Dental technology has been advancing at a fast pace to the point where many more dental treatment options are available.
The new technology has made dental procedures faster, less painful and more accurate in their diagnosis and testing. The technology has also made dental care safer on the body.
One piece of equipment that has really transformed the dental industry is the CEREC machine. CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics or CEramic REConstruction. CEREC utilizes CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) to produce dental crowns, inlays, onlays and veneers.
The creators of CEREC was W. Mormann and M. Brandestini at the University of Zurich, who made the first dental restorations from the equipment in 1980. The first ceramic dental restorations using CEREC technology were first used on patients in 1985.
Ceramic dental restorations are produced directly at the point of treatment (chairside), allowing for quicker, convenient dental treatment.
How CEREC Works
CEREC utilizes a variety of modern imaging and scanning techniques including visible light scanning, CT scans, and digital radiographs, computer-aided design, 3D imaging and restoration manufacturing utilizing CNC milling, and 3D printing.
In order to carry all of these steps out in the dentist’s office – chairside – the dentist requires an image acquisition unit with an intraoral camera, the corresponding designing software, and a milling machine or a printer. If the dentist does not have a milling unit in their office, they can send the data in a digital file to the dental laboratory via an online portal. The lab designs and manufactures the restorations according to the dentist’s prescription and then sends the finished restorations back to the dentist’s office. Around 38,000 dentists worldwide use the CEREC method and thus produce some 6.9 million restorations each year (as of October 2013)
CEREC technology makes it possible to produce and integrate ceramic restorations in a single appointment. Unlike other materials such as amalgam or gold, ceramic is more biocompatible and boasts tooth-like physical and aesthetic qualities. In addition, digital impressions are more comfortable for patients than traditional impressions.
By further developing the process, it was possible to reduce the amount of follow-up work and occlusion adjustment. According to studies, the ten-year lifespan of CEREC inlays polished and milled with the aid of a computer is significantly longer than that of gold inlays, and also exceeds that of individually laboratory-manufactured ceramic inlays. Further clinical studies have reported a success rate of CEREC restorations is 95.5 percent following a period of nine years and 84 percent after 18 years.
Other potential applications
Combined with three-dimensional X-ray technology, it has also been possible to use CEREC for implants since 2009. The dentist can combine the CAD/CAM planning based on CEREC with 3D X-ray data to coordinate the prosthetic and surgical implant planning. Based on this so-called integrated implantology, the dentist is able to order the drilling templates from the drilling template manufacturer SiCat or – if they have their own milling machine – produce them on their own at the office using CEREC Guide. Furthermore CEREC has been expanding into the orthodontic market with a special software package creating a virtual patient for orthodontic treatment planning.