In order to restore a broken tooth or part of a tooth that is missing after a root canal, or as part of a restoration plan, a crown will be installed. The role of the crown is to replace the tooth’s natural crown both aesthetically and functionally.
To install a crown on a tooth or dental implant, the dentist and technician must work together. After preparing the tooth (grinding) for placement of the crown or after installing the implant and abutment, information about the required size and shape of the crown must be sent to the dental technician so that he can prepare it accurately. This is usually done by taking impressions. A tray filled with silicon material is placed in the patient’s mouth, and when the material solidifies, an imprint of the teeth is created. After the technician receives the impressions, he uses them to create a mould upon which he can build the required crown.
The technological advancement that surrounds us in all areas of our lives is relevant to the world of dentistry as well. The shift to the digital age of dentistry includes two stages:
- CAD – Computer Aided Design
- CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing
The initial planning stage, CAD, involves the use of a digital scanner and advanced software. The first dental scanner was developed about 30 years ago in Zurich by a German company, Sirona. The equipment became more and more sophisticated, especially over the past few years, and the dental scanner is now an advanced, very powerful tool that is easy to use in the dental clinic.
What is a dental scanner exactly? It’s a very powerful optical camera with advanced software. The dentist scans the patient’s teeth and dozens of photos are taken automatically. The software then creates a 3D digital model of the patient’s mouth. Without using silicon impression material, this method is quick, easy to use, comfortable for the patient (especially for those with a strong gag reflex), and most importantly – very precise.
The powerful software immediately shows a model of the teeth on the screen. If something needs to be corrected, the dentist is able to easily see where the problem is and immediately correct it and re-scan. This spares the stages usually involved when using the current method, in which only after the impressions are taken and sent to the technician for the mould to be created is it possible to see if corrections need to be made and the impressions redone. The immediate results provided by the digital scanner save a considerable amount of time. The scanner’s software also allows the technician to precisely plan the shape of the crown. Because everything is digital, these plans are used to create a crown that fits the patient’s tooth exactly and whose shape is compatible with the adjacent and opposite teeth at an incredible degree of precision.
After the digital scanning and planning stages, the information is transferred digitally to the computerized production stage – CAM. Today, crowns are primarily made using advanced computerized lathes. In comparison with the alternatives, production using computerized lathes enables us to utilize new, better options. Materials such zirconia or types of reinforced porcelain such as EMAX can be shaped into crowns with the computerized lathe, enabling us to create aesthetic, strong crowns for any tooth in the mouth (“all porcelain” crowns – without any metal at all).
In conclusion, the digital dental scanner, computerized lathe and the new materials now enable us to quickly create crowns that are very precise and highly aesthetic, all without taking impressions.
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