Oral care has come a long way. About 8000 years ago people used a “chewing stick” which was no more than a stick or twig with a pointed or frayed tip. Today we use computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM). That is quite a jump! Today, there is an entire industry focused around improving your dental experience and using technology to do so.
The CAD/CAM as an acronym stands for computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing. This is used for producing precision tools and with its incorporation into the field of dentistry over the past 2 decades, the technology and metal-free materials has been utilized by dentists to provide dental candidates milled ceramic crowns, onlays &inlays, veneers and bridges.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) in restorative dentistry can be used to:
Ø Reduce production time for copings and frameworks; increasing overall productivity
Ø Introduce consistent and measurable accuracy
Ø Provide evidence of product quality
The dentists are able to see a three dimensional model of your mouth on a computer screen, by using this sophisticated software. They can also create dental restorations right in our office that would previously have been made by a laboratory. The patient benefits are immense in terms of time and accuracy.
CAD/CAM technology is usually combined with other technologies to shorten time in the dentist chair and reduce the number of visits. Prior to this technology, all major tooth restorations required dentists to make a mold of the tooth and send it to a lab. The lab would then carve and cast a crown, send it back to the dentist, and you would need to return for another appointment. In-office CAD/CAM technology reduces these steps and allows the dentist to make a crown while you wait.
Restorations made with CAD/CAM technology will also fit the patient’s tooth better. A better fit result in a stronger seal and a longer lasting result. Some restorations still need to be sent to the laboratory for expanded material choices or custom aesthetic work not possible with a same-day procedure. The good news is that modern dental laboratories now also use CAD/CAM technology. Dentists send digital scans to the laboratory instead of the old style “impressions” many patients are familiar with. This digital scan is then taken into the laboratory’s CAD/CAM system and restorations are made more quickly and more accurately than when made from an impression.
This technology has changed the world of dentistry but it is not alone. Subsequent posts will look at other new technologies for everything from dental implants to financing. Our patients can take comfort in the fact that very smart people are working hard to help dentists make your dental experience better.