In the past, crowns,veneers and onlays meant multiple visits to the dental office. At the initial appointment, the tooth is prepped and an impression is taken and sent off to a dental laboratory. In the meantime, the dentist fabricates a temporary tooth to protect his work. The dental lab takes approximately 10 business days to complete the final product. When the patient returns to the office, he/she will have the permanent tooth cemented on.
With the CEREC machine, the patient simply comes in for one appointment and one appointment only. No gooey impression materials; no walking around with temporary restorations. As opposed to taking impressions, a 3D digital camera is used to take the image of the whole mouth which is later sent to the computer. With that image, the doctor then designs the tooth as the patient watches. Then the final work is sent to a machine where the tooth is milled by diamond coated instruments from a ceramic block.
The ceramic block has been custom picked and shaded by the dentist. It can happen, that the lab sometimes mismatches the the final work and then it has to be sent back for correction. This is now all eliminated since the dentist is closely involved in not only choosing the perfect shade for his work but as well as when the tooth is finished, he can do the adjustments on the special porcelain material right there. The tooth is polished and cemented onto the tooth. The whole process takes approximately 2 hours.
While it seems like a lengthy procedure, the patient does not sit in the chair for that entire time. He/she is free to walk around, get a coffee or watch television while the computer and the milling machine does its magic in the back of our office.