logo image

CAD/CAM dentistry

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

CAD/CAM dentistry is a field of dentistry and prosthodontics using CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) to improve the design and creation of dental restorations, including crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, fixed bridges, dental implant restorations, zirconia frames, dentures (removable or fixed), and orthodontic appliances.

CAD/CAM systems are utilized to process various types of dental materials :

  • Zirconia is exclusively processed using computerized systems
  • Porcelain, especially all-porcelain restorations (crowns, inlays, veneers)
  • Dental composite, mostly when composite inlays or veneers are fabricated
  • Metal alloys may also be milled or digitally produced.

CAD/CAM system

CAD/CAM system

The CAD/CAM system

CAD/CAM are highly evolved computerized systems, consisting of 2 parts :


  • After teeth preparation, the dentist makes a dental impression. The impression can then be used to create the dental cast.

  • The dental impression or the dental cast is placed inside the scanner. The scanner creates the digital impression.

  • Dentists can also use intraoral scanners to make a digital impression directly without any impression materials.

  • Specific clinical information is entered into the computer. The desired restoration is designed by the main software and the required data is sent to the milling machine.

  • The milling machine carves it out of a solid block of zirconium, ceramic or composite according to the information received.

  • If zirconium restorations or frames are manufactured, after milling, the zirconium core is placed inside special furnaces at high temperatures (1500 degrees Celsius or 2730 Fahrenheit) for 6-7 hours. This operation aims to increase the tensile strength of zirconium.

  • After completion, the structure is sent to the dental office for fitting.


  • High accuracy

    CAD/CAM systems, especially the newly developed, are highly accurate. It is estimated that the system has a margin of error of less than 20 microns.

  • Restorations can be completed in less time

    Conventional prosthesis, such as crowns or bridges, have temporaries placed from one to several weeks while a dental laboratory produces the restoration.

    Designed to provide a seamless workflow, in some cases, CAD/CAM systems allow practitioners to provide patients with crowns, inlays, onlays and veneers in a single appointment.


Last review and update: November 2020

Top articles

Dental Implants, the Complete Patient's Guide

Today, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement systems and are now more common than ever before. This comprehensive guide deals with all the important aspects of implant dentistry ...more

15 Common Tongue Diseases that Can Affect You

Because we use our tongue constantly, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable when we experience tongue problems. Learn about the different types of tongue problems, possible causes and how to deal with them ...more

Mouth Cancer. How to Deal with a Life-Threatening Disease

Mouth cancer is a serious condition that can be life threatening. The good news is that if oral cancer is caught early, there is a very high chance of curing it. Learn about the early signs of mouth cancer and what are the best ways to prevent or treat this disease ...more