Cerec crowns vs traditional crowns
What is CEREC technology ?
CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CEramic REConstruction) is a method of CAD/CAM dentistry for creating dental restorations.
The process allows dentists to construct, produce, and insert individual ceramic restorations directly at the point of treatment (chairside) in a single appointment, rather than over multiple appointments with lab work in between.
How does the process take place ?
After tooth preparation, the dentist makes a digital impression, generally using an intraoral scanner (or camera). Normally, patients respond better to digital impressions where there is no need to have a mouthful of impression materials.
The digital impression is sent to the corresponding designing software where the dentist constructs the tooth restoration on a screen and then passes on the finished construction to a milling machine via the office network.
The restoration is milled out of a color-matched ceramic block in just 6 to 15 minutes. The dentist can then add the finishing touches to the restoration by painting, polishing, and glazing it, before cementing it on the prepared teeth.
CEREC technology makes it possible to produce and integrate ceramic restorations in a single appointment. In addition, digital impressions are more comfortable for patients than traditional impressions.
CEREC restorations are extremely reliable. The technology allows dentists to use modern ceramics (for example, the eMax ceramic), which are extremely durable and long-lasting.
The marginal fit of the CEREC crowns is very accurate due to the high precision of the scanning machines, so marginal integrity is great provided the crown is properly designed.
Generally, CEREC crowns are less aesthetic than other all ceramic crowns but more aesthetic than porcelain fused to metal crowns. However, the crown aesthetics are largely down to the dentist's skill, experience and attention to detail.
Because the dental lab is not involved, the dentist will have to spend time to stain and glaze the porcelain. Moreover, CEREC crowns rely on superficial staining unlike hand-layered porcelain restorations, which possess a deep-set coloration due to the multi-layering.
Generally, CEREC crowns require one longer visit to provide the crown than two shorter appointments needed for a traditional ceramic crown. Although the fitting process is more likely a bit longer with CEREC, everything is done at one appointment.
It is very likely that more dental offices will use a CEREC type system for crowns in the future, as this technology may become a standard of care.
CEREC technology is time saving, it can provide very precise restorations, and combined with the new modern ceramics, the strength and durability of CEREC crowns are great.
However, the final result will depend on the dentist's skill, expertise, and attention to details.
Last review and update: December 2020