Restoration Work now in Computer Age
Thursday October 4, 2001

Dear Dr. Mady: I just got home from a visit to my dentist. He booked me to return for a crown and a filling next week and he has some new machine in the office that will make an actual porcelain ceramic or white crown and filling right there while I wait.

Have you ever heard of this and is it any good?- D.K.

Dear D.K: As you are probably aware, dentists today are offering a great number of choices for restoring teeth and they are keeping in mind that appearances and esthetics are extremely important.

Most individuals will request tooth colored restorations as opposed to metal ones. There is nothing wrong with this but there are many choices to explore with respect to this type of dental treatment.

The method you are referring to is known as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing or CAD-CAM.

What this device does is electronically or digitally scan the prepared tooth and stores this retrieved data in memory in a computer via an infra-red type video imaging system. The data can be accessed immediately and used to mill or carve a porcelain restoration out of a ceramic block of chosen shade.

The finished product may be ready to try in and cement or bond in the patient's mouth in as little as ten minutes for small inlays (fillings) or one hour for larger crowns or onlays. This is why these are known as single-visit restorations.

An advantage of this type of treatment additionally is the lack of a need for impressions and models and fabrication of a temporary restoration that would have been worn for one to two weeks while a commercial dental laboratory completed the porcelain work. Also, all of these fillings or crowns are tooth colored and esthetically pleasing and tend to allow conservation of natural tooth structure and excellent durability.

On the down side, the single appointment may be a lengthy one and you may prefer to have two shorter appointments.

Not every dentist is using this type of CAD-CAM system as the start up costs are extremely high at this time and many just do not feel comfortable with it. They may prefer to have an experienced dental lab technician fabricate their ceramics from scratch like we have all done in the past and are still doing, even though computer-generated systems appear to be very promising and capable.

If you have any doubt or any more questions, discuss it with your dentist prior to consenting to this treatment and also make sure that it is the right option for your individual needs compared with other modalities.

Ask your dentist specifically about the type and brand of system that he uses and how many successful cases that he has completed. It will make you more comfortable about your decision.

Either way I am confident that you will attain pleasing results.

This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5



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