The development of chairside "CAD/CAM" (Computer Assisted Design/Manufacture) of porcelain crowns has changed patients experience and improved the quality of patient care in a variety of ways.
If you have had crowns placed in the past, you may recall the traditional methods. A dentist will get the area numb and prepare the tooth for the crown (also commonly referred to as "cap"). This portion of the appointment is the same whether it is done the traditional method or through CAD-CAM. Using traditional techniques, your dentist then "takes an impression." Which means they place "PVS" a rubbery goo on a tray and you hold still while the material sets.
At a traditional crown appointment, a temporary crown must then be fabricated and temporarily cemented. Your first appointment concludes when the dentist has checked the bite and temporary crown fit. Meanwhile, the impression is sent to a lab where a technician pours up a stone model of your tooth/preparation and fabricates the crown out of all gold, PFM (porcelain fused to metal) or all porcelain. Typically, your second appointment is scheduled 10-14 days later, to test fit (and if all is well) permanently cement your crown.
Utilizing CAD-CAM method, your appointment and experience will be quite different than the traditional workflow. Following the preparation of your tooth, the prep is then digitally scanned.
At this point, you, the patient, have a 30-40 minute break (bring a good book, an iPad or laptop and enjoy our complimentary WiFi!) Once the digital scans are complete, the dentist designs the crown using computer software. This typically takes 10-20 minutes. The crown is then sent to a milling machine, located in our dental lab where a small block of porcelain (typically either Empress or IPS E.Max).
Once milling is complete the porcelain crown is then test fitted in your mouth, to ensure that the real crown feels and fits as well in reality as it does in the digital design world. Once that determination has been made, your crown is either hand-polished or baked in a porcelain oven. Then it is permanently cemented. One appointment, typically around two hour duration, and you leave the office with your permanent crown in place for good!