Cavities, Bad Breath and Other Embarrassing Topics

How New Technology Saves You Time at the Dentist

You may have ruined your appetite last night when you bit into your favourite steak and shattered an old filling. It was a nasty sensation and it now feels as if you have a hole the size of a crater where the tooth used to be. Yet this is only the beginning of your problem, as you will likely require two separate visits to the dentist in order to get a new crown fitted. At least, cosmetic dentistry such as this would require that kind of inconvenience in the past, but today this can all be accomplished in one visit. How is this possible?

Technology to the Rescue

Many of the best dentists are able to "fix" the problem caused by your finest sirloin, by fitting new crowns in a visit that only lasts about an hour. This is possible due to the use of CAD/CAM technology and equipment that's now located right in the dentist's office. Previously, it would be necessary to file the tooth down and make an impression using an unpleasant process involving sticky paste. Then, the impression would need to be sent to a lab, where the actual crown would be created. A second visit, two or three weeks later, would be necessary in order to have the crown fitted.

How The New Process Works

Using the latest technology, the dentist prepares the area and then shapes the tooth in order to receive the new crown. However, rather than making a physical impression, a miniature camera records a 3D image instead. In the back office, the computer program uses this imagery to create a picture of what the tooth should look like, including the crown. The dentist can show this to the patient and then the details are sent to a nearby machine to create the crown from a piece of porcelain. All the little irregularities, ridges and indentations are included in order to create the perfect replica of the image shown on the computer screen. In less than half an hour the crown is ready for use and the dentist can glue it in place.

Some Restrictions Remain

Many dentists believe that this technology is best used for the larger teeth towards the back of your mouth, as the new method is not yet a perfect solution when creating an aesthetically pleasing smile. For front teeth, therefore, many dentists will still want to send the information off to a specialist lab. Also, if a tooth happens to break off below the gum line the device used for scanning will not be able to capture the necessary 3-D imagery for in-office processing.

As it it wasn't bad enough to ruin a perfectly good steak, at least you can now avoid adding insult to injury, by scheduling two separate days away from work to visit your dentist (like Dr. John Michalopoulos)!