CEREC In-Depth

Young couple with CEREC crowns from Blue Summit Dental Group
Blue Summit Dental Group has always envisioned becoming the leader in the adoption of cutting-edge technology. One of the many advances in the field right now is the CEREC, a software application and grinding and milling machine, which drastically changes the landscape when it comes to ease of use and accuracy of fabricating porcelain veneers and ceramic crowns. Before CEREC it could take a few days for your crown to be finished, now, with this chairside machine we can finish the job in a matter of minutes.

The Evolution of the CEREC

CEREC is part of the field of dentistry called CAD/CAM. This is the acronym for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. Through the use of software and robotics, the fabrication of inlays, veneers, crowns, fixed bridges, dental implants, and dentures is made effortless, not just on the part of the dentist but the patient, as well.

The technology itself has been around since the 80s. Because it was still in its infancy, and computers were not as sophisticated as they are today, the idea stayed as a concept for many years. Remember, this was the time when the Commodore, IBM, and Macintosh were still the main computers of that era. They were still using 8-bit MOS technology as opposed to the 64-bit that is being used by modern computers. Manufactured by Dentsply Sirona, CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. It was invented by Dr. Werner Mörmann. Prior to 2016, Dentsply and Sirona were two separate companies which traced their origins in the late 1800s. Sirona Dental Systems was founded in Erlangen, Germany in 1877 while Dentsply International was originally named Dentists Supply Company in New York City in 1899.

After the strategic merger, however, the company reinvented itself and soon became the largest manufacturer of dental related technologies and accessories. Dentsply Sirona expanded to 120 countries worldwide, employing more than 15,000 employees. Sirona brought into the merger the CEREC technology, which was launched much earlier in 2012. That was the time when the company launched the product based on the CAD/CAM system. The unique innovation was the accurate 3D full jaw imaging without the use of the powder. In 2015, the company introduced upgrades to the software, as well as accessories and tools.

After the merger, Dentsply Sirona hunkered down to make CEREC the forefront of chairside CAD/CAM dentistry field. In February of 2016, the company organized SiroWorld, which drew in 4,000 dental practitioners across different disciplines from all over.

How Does CEREC Work?

At its basic core, CEREC and other CAD/CAM-based technologies mill, ground, and polish a solid block of composite resin or ceramic to fit the gap in the teeth.

First off, we will grind the tooth in question until all the decay is gone. Afterward, we will take a digital impression of the tooth and the surrounding areas. This is then fed into the computer. The CEREC proprietary software will then produce the replacement from the solid block to the utmost accuracy. After some fine-tuning such as glazing and stains, the tooth is now ready to be placed in the gap through a bond or cement.

The main question is:does the crown or bridge produced by the CEREC machine mimic the accuracy in appearance created by lab fabricated products? Simply put, does it closely resemble the natural stain of your teeth?

The advantage of Blue Summit Dental Group is that even our dental technicians have extensive experience and knowledge in staining and glazing. They are not dependent on the CEREC to do all the work. While theoretically, the machine can finish the fake tooth in a matter of minutes, we like to spend more time modifying the final product to include the intrinsic characteristics of your teeth.

Aesthetically, we make sure the fake teeth do not stand out and look, well, fake. One prevailing concern about CEREC is that an unnatural look is produced by the default shallow staining as opposed to the multi-layer stains on restorative products crafted manually in the lab. Regardless, the technology is just an aid which, paired with our expertise, will create aesthetically made restorations every time.
CEREC technology has a high satisfaction rate among our customers even without any additional fine-tuning, except for the polishing part.

Why Use CEREC?

Nobody likes to suffer the embarrassment of going through their everyday routine with a huge gap in their teeth as in the case of dentures or bridges, even if it is going to take on average a couple of days. In most cases, patients have to take a leave of absence at work while their fake teeth are still being fabricated. To resolve this, we typically place temporary bridges before the final product is affixed.

Through its patented software and chairside hardware, CEREC employs the latest in computer-assisted imaging and manufacturing to engineering orthodontic appliances. Because human fallibility is taken out of the equation, what you get as a result is a perfect match to the gap in your tooth down to the smallest microns, without compromising the speed. Of course, our dental technicians are trained to place the implants and crowns using CEREC. With the new technology, we made sure to also upgrade our skills and knowledge for greater complementarity.

The fact is, if patients are made to choose between coming back to sit again on the chair of the dentist as opposed to a single visit, they will choose the latter every time. That is the nature of the beast.

There is still that innate fear of the dentist that most of us have. This is often the same reason they postpone a visit up to the last moment when it is already necessary, such as when they can no longer tolerate the pain of tooth decay. This is also the reason why we envision creating natural looking restorations using our years of experience in the field, along with the CEREC technology.

Stumbling Blocks in the Use of CEREC

We cannot talk about CEREC extensively without touching on the criticisms leveled against it.

One of the issues is the amount of margin still present when making a crown, for instance. The margin refers to the gap between your natural tooth and the crown that is attached to it. The gap, which is measured in microns, is microscopic. Nevertheless, that gap can still harbor millions of bacteria. There is no comparison regarding the margin when you pit CEREC with traditional lab produced crowns. The main edge is the digital impression. Some dentists, however, suggest that crowns created from traditional labs, along with the benefit of 3D imaging, are still better at filling the margin.

There may be some truth to the contention, but then again, the advances in technology are being produced at the rapid rate. Any miscalculations are addressed with updates in the software and tools used in manufacturing the restoration products from the ceramic and resin-based blocks.

Regarding temporary crowns, the CEREC is the best option because of the accurate fit of the restoration that comes out of the machine. This could not be done with the traditional process, which is a stop-gap measure until the permanent tooth is bonded. You do not want the embarrassment of your temporary crown dislodging while talking and eating due to the improper match. Another advantage is the immediate functionality. With the crown completed within the hour, you can leave the clinic within the day without looking back.

Is the CEREC Procedure Expensive?

The price of the single visit will vary, of course. Before anything, it should be understood that all the costs stated here are just the estimate. When you visit with us, we quote you a price that already inputs several factors. The estimates, however, will give you an idea of how much budget to prepare.

With That Said, Let Us Begin:

You might think that all that technology will cost you big time, right? To be transparent about it, a CEREC machine will cost upwards of $100,000, so this is a huge investment on the part of the clinic. This is also the same explanation why not all offices offer the service. In business, any investment is added to the customer's fees and charges. However, we concentrate on giving the best service first,with the understanding that profit will take care of itself.

While on the subject of transparency, a dental chair will cost about $50 per operation, in addition to the blocks and burs which cost about $20 per unit. The CEREC will allow the patient to save on cost with the single visit operation.

Taking all that, the fee we collect is not that different with the CEREC compared to the traditional approach. This is because we already defray the cost of the lab. Second, the appointment is for a single visit only. You can expect between $450 and $800+ per crown. The difference in price will depend on where you have your procedure done, as well as the material used.

To illustrate, a crown made of porcelain fused to metal will be less costly compared to the all-ceramic crown. Regarding functionality, ceramic crowns are best affixed on the front teeth for aesthetic purposes.

Zirconia crowns are even more expensive, but is a better long-term investment because of its durability. Plus, with the advantage of the CAD/CAM technology, there is less chance of making a mistake in the initial fitting process. Your insurance covers the cost of the crown as long as it is categorized as porcelain fused to metal. This means that the crown filling is necessary to rectify a failing tooth. This should not be confused with cosmetic applications. For example, there would be no insurance coverage if you are looking to put a gold cap on your tooth for aesthetic purposes only. Some companies already cover all-ceramic crowns, so you better check with your insurer to make sure there are no surprises. If your company has a dental plan, then you are in luck. These health benefits can cover up to half of the total cost of the procedure. However, a dental coverage typically requires co-pays. As you can see, there are many factors involved before we can outline the final cost. We have to first check the condition of your teeth before we suggest the best procedure to give you that perfect smile. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

What Can You Expect When You Visit With Us?

On the day of your scheduled visit, one of our specialists will talk to you to discuss the procedure itself and the expected results. It is during this time you may ask all your questions so that they can address them. Our purpose is to provide you with all the information regarding CEREC, as well as your options regarding your particular problem, so you can arrive at an informed decision.

We may also take a digital photo of your teeth for accurate diagnosis. The digital information will immediately be transmitted to the machine to render a 3D image. A generic ceramic block will be placed in the machine, which will then be milled and ground by the machine.

This is a single visit procedure. The milling process itself may take no more than 12 to 15 minutes while the bonding will also take a few minutes. In theory, it will take only one hour from the time you sit on the chair to when you walk out. In the end, the technology is only as good as the person who uses it.

Blue Summit Dental Group is your best choice when it comes to the CEREC procedure. You may call our number at (810) 658-9177 to set a schedule or to ask any questions. We have our friendly staff on hand, ready to answer all your questions. If you call now, we will give you a free quotation for our services.
Dental services we offer to our Davison community

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Ralph J. Becker, D.D.S., P.C.
7007 Davison Rd
Davison, MI 48423-2005

(810) 658-9177
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