There are lots of new products emerging onto the dental market all the time. Some of these products claim to be more cost-effective. Some of them claim to be more time-efficient. Some of them claim to be more technologically advanced and medically superior to those treatments used in the past. If you are a consumer, it is sometimes difficult to know whether a new product is a viable treatment or just the latest fad. Will it become the industry standard – or will it soon be derided as the emperor’s new clothes?
When the market changes so fast, it is really important that patients build up a strong relationship with their dentist. Your dentist is your source of expertise on new products and new developments. They’ll give you an honest opinion on which products and treatments may be right for you – and which ones their practice has the facilities and expertise to deliver successfully.
Cerec is a new manufacturing technique that is designed to make it much easier to produce and fit made-to-measure crowns. One of the issues about fitting crowns is that it demands a lot of patient time. First you have to visit the dentist for an initial assessment. Once the dentist has made their diagnosis, you then have to book a new appointment for the mould to be made and a temporary, protective crown fitted. Finally, once the laboratory has prepared the new crown in line with the mould sent to them, you must return to the dentist to have it fitted.
So fitting a crown becomes a lengthy and fairly costly treatment. The obvious question for dentists and dental manufacturers is: can any of the stages be removed from the process? For example, imagine how much time could be saved if the crown could be shaped in-practice, rather than sent away to a laboratory for a couple of weeks.
This is the thinking behind Cerec. Cerec are the leaders in a new type of technology known as ‘CAD-CAM’ (Computer-assisted Design, Computer-assisted Manufacture). It is a significant advance in traditional crown-making approaches. Rather than taking a mould of your tooth and sending it to a laboratory, a dental practice with Cerec technology can use a photographic image of your tooth to shape a crown on-site. The crown is designed by a sophisticated computer programme which shapes the crown from porcelain. Cerec equipment can also be used to make hard-wearing, durable porcelain fillings.
The beauty of this technology is that you can reduce crown-fittings to a single visit. The process is cleaner and simpler. Your dentist does not need to create a mould and send it to the laboratory. They simply need to take a photograph and the Cerec technology does the rest. An average crown can be cut from porcelain using Cerec technology in less than 30 minutes. Of course, a temporary crown is no longer required.
If you are interested in Cerec technology, your first step should be to speak to your dentist. They will be able to advise on whether Cerec is right for you and, if they do not have the technology within their own practice, they may be able to recommend a practice that offers the Cerec service.
Why don’t all dental practices utilise Cerec technology? There are two reasons. First of all, it takes additional expertise from dentists which can require extra training. It also requires an initial investment from practices in the new technology which can be a barrier to some practices. However, the initial investment should also be viewed against the savings that can be made by practices further down the line. Cerec technology means that dentists need use less materials and need to commit less time to fixing crowns – freeing them up to do other types of work.
Cerec technology should also see some savings passed onto the patient, so the treatment may cost less than you imagine. With less hours spent in the waiting room and the dentist chair, you will also save on that other precious commodity too: time.