3-D Printing Technology For One Visit Dental Crowns Expands with Bridges and Implants

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New technology which allows dental offices such as Abingdon Family Dentistry to make dental crowns in one visit with digital precision has improved to include ability to provide patients with one visit Bridges and Implants

New Dental Technology by Sirona Technolgy allows dentists to create beautiful, precise fitting and natural looking dental crowns all in one visit, using a technology called CEREC. “In the past, dentists would have to use gooey molds and send the molds to a dental lab, which was sometimes located offshore in places like China,” says Dr. Sameer Puri, founder and instructor at the CERECDoctors, an organization dedicated to helping dentists learn and perfect their skills with this technology. "Today, however, the dental crown process has been revolutionized by using computer technology to take dentistry and specifically dental crowns into the 21st century." The technology has taken the next step in February 2015, when the scope of the capabilities of the system was widened to include the ability to make bridges and dental implants.

Dr. Edgar Radjabli, a dentist in a high tech private practice at Abingdon Family Dentistry in Bel Air, MD has used this technology for years and also teaches other doctors who are just getting started with it. He explains: “The difference is like when you went from VHS to DVD, analog to digital. The look and fit of the crowns are better than any lab I have ever seen because the digital scan and precision milling (similar to 3-D printing) make the crowns fit within microns, making sure that bacteria cannot get under the new crowns like it could under many of the old metal crowns that were made with the old by hand process which was prone to errors.”

The process is simple and comfortable for the patient. First, the tooth is prepared for the crown which is essentially replacement enamel for teeth that are cracked, broken or have large cavities. Then, using a precise digital 3D camera the tooth is scanned into a 3D model on the computer and the crown is designed in a software that allows the dentist to ensure that every aspect of the crown including fit and bite are exactly what they need to be. Then, this information is sent to a special “milling unit” which is like a 3D printer but instead of putting down layers, this milling unit carves the precise crown out of a block of material. The crown is then ready to be put it, removing the need to wait for the crown to be made in the laboratory, a process that used to take 3 weeks on average. The patient then leaves with the final crown, and not a temporary like before, which could allow bacteria to leak into the tooth.

“With the old metal crowns, there was a lot of possible distortion,” explains Dr. Radjabli, “so often when you got the crown back from the laboratory that made it you would have to do a lot of grinding to get it to fit in. Now it’s just a matter of putting it in, a perfect crown every time.”

Another great advantage of using this technology is it eliminates the use of metal in dental crowns. When the old style metal crown (first invented in the 1950s) is made, it uses several metals to form the base of the crown. In an effort to reduce costs, many discount dental clinics such as Heartland Dental or Aspen Dental use labs in China, where quality control is very low and crowns fabricated there have been known to contain lead, which is toxic to teeth and the body. Even well meaning private dentists who send their crown to US based labs sometimes get duped because those labs in turn outsource their work to those same Chinese labs. This has become quite an issue in recent years, and using the one visit crown technology with CEREC allows the patients to feel secure in knowing they are getting a quality material made right here in the USA.

In February, an updated version of the technology became available for dental offices. With this step forward in the evolution of the CEREC system, doctors are now able to perform Bridge and Implant procedures in one visit as well. Traditionally bridges and implants are much more complex and time consuming procedures, often necessitating three or more visits. However, now the same process used for crowns has been expanded to bring the same digital precision, quality and patient comfort to those procedures as well.

"What my patients seem to like the most though is they can get it done in one visit and don't have to take another day off work to get the final crown put in," summarized Dr. Radjabli saying that "this next step is being able to do Bridges and Implants is especially exciting"

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