In the past, when you needed to have a crown put on a chipped or cracked tooth, a tooth that was badly stained, or a tooth that had a root canal, the dentist had to make a mold of the tooth and surrounding area and send it off to a dental lab to be made. Now, however, your dentist can use a scanner to create a digital, 3D image of your mouth and the tooth that needs the crown. The crown can then be made onsite so you can have it put in that same day. Here is how the whole process goes.
Capturing the Image
Using an optical scanner, the dentist can capture a digital image of the tooth that needs to be crowned and the surrounding area. It is also possible for the dentist to make a mold of your teeth and scan that to get the image needed. The image is downloaded onto a computer with a design program for this type of work.
Designing the Crown
Using a CAD (computer-aided design) program, the dentist draws the crown. He or she designs it so that it fits on the prepared tooth, but also aligns with the rest of the teeth. Once the tooth is a perfect fit in size, the dentist matches the color to the other teeth. If you have some stains on the surrounding teeth, they can be replicated onto the crown too.
Creating the Crown
Once the dentist is satisfied with the design, it is sent to a milling chamber. A computer controlled lathe then mills a ceramic block into the crown. Once the shape is done, the piece is stained to match the color specified on the design program. It is then fired in a kiln or oven to harden it and seal the coloring. Finally, it is cleaned and polished before being put in your mouth.
Computer-aided dentistry can also be used for bridges, implants, inlays, and veneers. Parts that require additional metal or rubber, such as a bridge or implant, will still require a second visit to have the piece fit properly. However, if you chip a tooth, you can have a crown made that same day, or the next if the accident happened after hours. No one will ever see you with your teeth looking anything but normal. Contact a cosmetic dentist like David Jackson, DDS for more information or to set up an appointment.