Thanks to the revolutionary CEREC device from the German company Sirona Dental Systems, the days when it took up to several weeks to manufacture crowns, bridges, and tooth facing are definitely behind us.
CEREC is the English acronym for Chair-side Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. This set of three pieces of equipment is capable in approximately 2 hours of “scanning” a polished tooth prepared for a crown, bridge, or facing, virtually modelling the appropriate tooth replacement, and then producing the replacement piece. The dentist simply attaches the piece and you go home.
Development of CEREC began back in 1980 at the university in Zurich and the first patient was treated twenty years ago.Today’s CEREC 3D model is the result of continual technological improvements over the years.
CEREC is composed of three parts – a scanner, a computer with 3D software, and a milling machine. In the first phase the dentist applies a powder of titanium dioxide to the polished tooth and its surroundings and scans the entire surface of the teeth with an infrared 3D camera. The obtained data is downloaded onto a computer with 3D software. The transmission and display on the computer work in real time, giving the dentist and the patient immediate control over the process. In the second phase the dentist uses the software to model a perfectly-fitting filling, crown, or facing.
The replacement piece is designed either according to the patient’s own teeth or using an extensive database. If desired, finer details on the surface of the tooth can then be performed manually on the replacement piece. The scanned images of the surrounding teeth guarantee perfect contact and bite. The result can naturally be viewed virtually from all angles. In the third phase, the most interesting for the « spectator, » the designed tooth replacement is sent to the milling machine. Within a few short minutes small diamond-tipped drills create the ceramic replacement piece with perfect contact surfaces. The milling process is absolutely symmetrical, which ensures that the ceramic materials are processed as precisely and efficiently as possible. The replacement piece is finished in under an hour. If standard methods were used the patient would be forced to wait days or even weeks!
The only medical facility in the Czech Republic equipped with the complete CEREC system is Asklepion – Clinic and Aesthetic Medicine Institute in Prague. Asklepion Director MUDr. Roman Šmucler, CSc. states: “CEREC is the only system in the world that enables the production and fitting of a solid ceramic tooth replacement during a single visit to the dentist. For the patient this means fewer injections, less drilling, and most of all, fewer trips to the dentist.” Besides the time considerations, MUDr. Šmucler considers the use of solid ceramic replacements instead of ceramic-covered metal to be a key improvement.
Solid ceramic tooth replacements have a structure and characteristics that are highly similar to healthy teeth. In addition to being able to expand and contract in response to heat and cold like real teeth, ceramic teeth can transmit light naturally, thanks to which they do not create the “black tooth” artificial illumination effect that is common with standard metal-ceramic crowns. “During a regular check-up an uninformed dentist has a difficult time distinguishing a crown produced by CEREC from a healthy tooth.”