One-Hour Crowns: How CAD/CAM Technology Is Revolutionizing the Dental Industry
Imagine you’re sitting in the dentist chair for a routine visit and your dentist informs you that you need a crown. “That’s fine,” you say, “but I’m leaving on an extended business trip out of the country in a week.” “No problem,” your dentist replies. “I’ll have you fixed up and out of here in an hour or less.” Sound impossible? It’s not.
In the past, you’ve had to wait two weeks or longer to get a custom dental crown made. Here’s why -- your dentist probably made an impression of your tooth, which was then sent to one of several thousand dental laboratories in the U.S. or overseas. At the lab, a cast was made which was then used to mold a restoration out of wax. Using the lost-wax method similar to jewelry making, your crown was then produced from metal such as gold, or fired from porcelain and fused to metal. In the case of porcelain, the crown was then hand-colored to match your teeth before being sent back to your dentist for insertion.
More recently, the impression was scanned and imported into computer aided design (CAD) software. At that point, the CAD file was sent to a milling machine for fabrication out of ceramic material. The resulting crown then needed to be sintered in an oven before being colored by a technician. The file of your tooth was sometimes sent to labs in Asia, where labor was cheaper.
Today, your dentist or a nearby lab can scan the impression and, with a few clicks of a mouse, turn it into a digital file. They may even have a camera that takes a picture of your tooth so that an impression isn’t required. Next, using one of the recently introduced compact milling machines, your crown can be precision milled in about 20 minutes from restorative materials that closely match the shade of your teeth. With a few minutes of touch up, your crown is ready to insert.
In addition to these revolutionary new mills, making this all possible are new restoration materials. These new materials, either ceramic or composite resins, can be ordered in a variety of colors that closely match the shade of your tooth and don’t require sintering/firing. They do, however, have a tooth-like feel and can be repaired if necessary just like a normal tooth.
Mark Weitzman D.D.S. is a leading dental industry expert and partner with daVinci Dental Studios in the television series "Extreme Makeover." He operates a family and cosmetic dentistry practice in Ventura County, California. Until recently, Dr. Weitzman had to cope with delayed work from labs fabricating his crowns and bridges. Dr. Weitzman decided to invest in a Roland DWX-4 compact milling machine to produce his restorations in-house. According to Dr. Weitzman, "This product is changing the way dentistry is done today and has changed the workflow of my practice. The DWX-4 can create a bridge, crown or inlay while the patient is at the chair. It saves time while significantly reducing costs." Dr. Weitzman said he "can't imagine a dentist not having this unit in their office today."
Paul Jackson, VP of Marketing at Benco Dental, a distributor, adds, “Today, a dentist or lab can begin offering their customers one hour service without compromise to the quality and esthetic demands of a patient.”
Digital dental technologies are transforming every aspect of the dental industry. The days of tedious, manual production of crowns, copings and bridges are fast disappearing. The latest advancements in radiographs, scanning, CAD software, computer numerical control (CNC) milling and restoration materials allow dental offices and labs to deliver custom production with speed and precision. Better fit and aesthetics promote patient satisfaction, while labs and dentists enjoy greater productivity with faster turnaround and optimal accuracy and repeatability.
When the opportunity arises and you need a new crown, ask if the doctor can complete the restoration in a single visit, rather than the traditional two-visit appointment.
For more information on Dr. Weitzman, please call (850) 650-0700, or visit www.drmarkweitzman.com.
For more information on Benco Dental, please call (570) 602-7047, or visit www.benco.com.
To learn more about Roland DGA and its products, call (800) 542-2307 or visit the Roland website at www.rolanddga.com.
About Roland DGA Corp.
Roland DGA Corporation serves North and South America as the marketing, sales and distribution arm for Roland DG Corporation. Founded in 1981 and listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Roland DG of Hamamatsu, Japan is a worldwide leader in wide-format inkjet printers for the sign, apparel, textile, packaging and vehicle graphics markets; engravers for awards, personalization and ADA signage; photo impact printers for direct part marking; and 3D printers and CNC milling machines for rapid prototyping, part manufacturing and the medical and dental CAD/CAM industries. Roland DGA is ISO 9001:2008 certified, and Roland DG is ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certified.
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