A tooth that’s suffered structural damage due to decay or trauma can sometimes need to be capped or crowned. Capping a damaged tooth is a way to make it look better and function properly again. A cap or crown is made from a durable material that is custom designed to fit over the entire tooth. Fabricating a crown usually takes place in a dental office, with a dentist making an impression and sending it off to a lab to be made. However, there’s a more convenient option available as some dentists offer same-day crowns made right in the office.
There’s an advanced dental technology called Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM). The technology allows a dentist to fabricate caps and do other dental restorations, all in a matter of minutes. It’s an amazing process, especially when you think about how long it would typically take to make a cap. Now, a patient can have a tooth restored without going through the usual two or three visits. Our office is proud to use CEREC, the premier CAD/CAM technology provider.
Studies have shown CAD/CAM tooth restoration procedures are just as successful as having a cap made using traditional materials and techniques. With the amazingly natural appearance of same-day caps, it means that nobody has to know you’ve had a tooth replaced.
CAD/CAM: How it Works
Capping or crowning a tooth all begins with the same process, whether it’s a traditional or same-day cap. The tooth is prepared, any decay is removed and the tooth is shaped with a dental drill so it fits perfectly inside the cap. However, this is where the similarities end.
If you were thinking of getting a traditional crown, the next step would involve taking an impression or mold of your natural teeth using a putty-like substance. The substance creates a mold which is used to generate a crown. With a same-day cap/crown procedure, a dentist will give a patient’s teeth a simple dusting with reflective powder and then use a small wand to make a computer picture of the inside of the mouth. Within seconds, the computer generates a 3D model of a patient’s teeth. But wait, there’s more!
With the help of specialized CAD/CAM software, a dentist can design a patient’s crown right in the office, while a patient waits. A dentist can use the CAD/CAM software to create a mirror-image of the same tooth on the other side of a person’s mouth and it results in the most natural-looking replacement possible. After the model is made, the dentist will take a piece of dental ceramic and match the shade to the patient’s teeth. The computer’s digital design is communicated to a milling machine that carves the cap from ceramic. The entire process takes about five minutes.
Once the cap has been verified as a perfect fit and the dentist has made any necessary enhancements, the piece is bonded to the tooth. With a traditional cap, a patient would be waiting for several weeks and have to wear a temporary restoration during that time. With a same-day crown, a patient will walk out of the dental office with the real thing.
Caring for a Same-Day Crown
It doesn’t matter if teeth are capped or natural, both require conscientious care. You should be sure to brush and floss your teeth every day, in order to reduce dental plague build up. When you have caps or crowns, it’s important that you maintain regular dental visits and cleanings. Avoid using your natural or capped teeth as tools to open a package. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, it can be a good idea to wear a nightguard to prevent damage. When well cared for, same-day crowns will last for many years.
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