Let’s face it, very few of us have perfect teeth, free of decay and fillings. You can probably see a filling or two in your own mouth, which do just that – “fill” a cavity, or hole, in your tooth left from the excavation of decayed tooth structure. In many cases, those fillings are made of metal material and can go bad, weaken the tooth, or get additional decay under or around it. In fact, 1.2 billion of these metal fillings will need to be replaced in the next 10 years.* CEREC is a method used by thousands of dentists worldwide since 1987 not only to replace these fillings but also to restore any tooth that is decayed, weakened, broken, etc. to its natural strength and beauty. Better yet, it’s done with all-ceramic materials that are tooth-colored in a single appointment! So, how does the CEREC procedure work?
The CEREC Procedure
Exam and Preparation
First, Dr. Rick Smith in Santa Cruz examines the tooth and determines the appropriate treatment. It could be a simple filling, or a full crown, depending on how much healthy tooth structure is remaining and the clinical judgment of Dr. Smith. Next, he administers an anesthetic and prepares your tooth for the restoration, removing decayed and weakened tooth tissue. This preparation is just like he or she would do for many other restorative techniques.
Then, Dr. Smith takes a computerized Optical Impression of the prepared tooth. Instead of filling a tray with impression “goop” that you must bite into and hold in your mouth until it hardens, Dr. Smith coats the tooth with a non-toxic, tasteless powder. A camera is then used to take a digital picture of your tooth. This whole Optical Impression process only takes a minute or two.
Next, Dr. Smith uses the CEREC machine to create the restoration for your tooth. The CEREC 3D software takes the digital picture and converts it into a 3-dimensional virtual model on the computer screen. Dr. Smith then uses his dental expertise to design the restoration using the CEREC 3D computer program. Within a few minutes, he clicks a button to send the restoration design data to a separate milling machine in the office. A ceramic block that matches your tooth shade is placed in the milling machine. About 10 – 20 minutes later, your all-ceramic, tooth-colored restoration is finished and ready to bond in place. Finally, Dr. Smith tries the restoration in your mouth to ensure proper fit and bite. The restoration is then polished and bonded to the prepared tooth and your smile is restored with no “temporary” or return trip necessary. All of this is done in a single appointment!