Cerec crowns, Quicker and Stronger
Here is how a traditional crown is done
“A crown is needed when there is not adequate tooth structure to support a filling, inlay or onlay,” explains Dr. Steve Dedrickson, a dentist with Sevens Dental Group in Clayton. “A crown completely covers the outer portion of the tooth and protects it from external stress.”
Dedrickson uses a traditional approach to placing crowns. First, an impression of the damaged tooth is taken to create a model. Trained technicians at a dental laboratory use the model to fabricate the crown, which will look and feel like the original tooth. A temporary crown is placed until the permanent crown is completed.
There are a variety of materials used to create dental crowns. Typically, a crown is made of metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin or ceramic. Crowns may be sensitive to temperatures, and they may chip or become loose over time.
Dr. Ethan Schuman of Schuman Center Dental Aesthetics in Creve Coeur uses a different approach to crowns. Cerec (Chairside Esthetic Restoration Ceramics) allows a crown to be made and placed in a single visit. Only about 2 percent of dentists use CEREC technology, Schuman says, although he began offering the procedure in 2001. Schuman says the advantages of CEREC include the time saved and the fact that a CEREC crown is bonded to the natural tooth, resulting in more strength and support than traditional crowns.
“First, we prepare the damaged tooth by painting a thin layer of reflective powder directly on the tooth’s surface,” he says. “Using a special camera, we then take a picture of the tooth. There’s no need to take a messy impression and send it to the lab. We work from this photo, which is actually a pin-sharp optical impression of the tooth.”
While the patient waits for about 10 minutes, a ceramic block that matches the natural tooth color is milled by a high-speed diamond bur to the specifications indicated by the optical impression. The resulting crown is perfectly shaped and bonded to the tooth with strong adhesive. “Cerec crowns conduct heat and expand or contract just like natural tooth enamel,” Schuman says. “Because they’re so accurately made and placed, they don’t tend to get decay underneath.”