CEREC – a patient's story

Please read on to hear about CEREC from a patient’s perspective. The example is from one of Wayne Moyle’s patients but all our dentists are able to offer the same care.

Patient ‘X’ of Weedens, Christchurch had a cracked molar which needed to be rebuilt. Name withheld to protect patients privacy.

Wayne began by carefully explaining the process for rebuilding my cracked molar. He showed me the CEREC computer in the treatment room, which looks pretty much like a conventional computer monitor and keyboard, although the computer is raised on a wheeled plinth so it is easily accessible to the dentist. The computer also has a long cable attached which has a tiny camera on the end used to take the 3D image of the cavity. Wayne also showed me a selection of different colour grades of ceramic blocks that would be used to produce my new tooth. He selected a colour that would perfectly match my teeth.

1. Defective filling and any tooth decay is removed.

I was given an injection to numb the area and Wayne and I chatted whilst the anesthetic took hold. Wayne began by removing the cracked and decayed parts of my tooth. Wayne is a concerned and careful dentist and explained what he was doing whilst he worked. Within 20 minutes he had removed the parts of my tooth he could not save. As CEREC works with what healthy tooth remains, it was not necessary for him to take out or grind down healthy tooth, like you would have to with conventional restorations, such as crowns. As Wayne explained this had the added advantage of leaving something to work with 20 years down the line if you needed to replace your CEREC.

2. The Omnicam painlessly takes an optical 3D image of the cavity.

The next part of the procedure used the computer aided design. A tiny intra-oral camera, called the Omnicam, was passed over the surface of my remaining tooth and a 3D full colour optical image was built up of the tooth surface. I have to say I found all of this quite enthralling and Wayne showed me the perfectly replicated image of my tooth’s surface on the computer screen right next to my chair.

3. Designing the new restoration

Wayne then began to design my new tooth on the computer screen, using the CEREC 3D computer program and his dental expertise. Whilst this was taking place I was free to relax and read the paper or watch and chat.

4. The image data is milled on to a ceramic block remote from the patient.

Once Wayne was happy with the design, he clicked a button and sent the restoration design data to be milled onto the ceramic block we chose earlier. Riccarton Dentists keep their milling machine at the top of the practice away from the patient rooms as it can be a little noisy. Once again, I was free to relax with some good reading in the waiting room whilst my new tooth was being produced for me.

5. The new restoration fits precisely and is bonded with a unique light.

Wayne showed me the newly milled tooth and then applied a special bonding agent which reacts when a unique light is shone on it. Easy! My tooth was firmly bonded in place and fitted perfectly!

From start to finish the procedure took about 90 minutes, with quite a bit of this free time for me to relax whilst my tooth was designed and milled. CEREC really did perform as well as Wayne said it would. The speed of the procedure was probably the thing that impressed me the most, although when I look at my teeth today, I would probably say the look of them is a fantastic benefit. They are also incredibly strong, I could even bite down on them the day they were put in – fairly amazing!

Some common questions and answers.

1. How long does each part of the procedure take?

Defective filling and any tooth decay removed20 minutes
A small camera painlessly takes an optical 3D image of the cavity5 minutes
Designing your new tooth on screen10 – 20 minutes
Milling of the image data remote from the patient15 minutes
The new restoration is fitted, bonded with a unique light and polished20 – 30 minutes
Estimated total time70 – 90 minutes

2. Will the new tooth match the colour of my existing teeth?

Your new tooth can exactly match your existing teeth, we have various colour grades of ceramic to choose from. The Ceramic material also has chameleon properties and enables light to pass through it, in a similar way to your natural teeth. Your new tooth will look perfectly natural.

3. Are CERECs more expensive than crowns and veneers?

CEREC reconstructions are typically a little less expensive than conventional restorations. Huge time savings are made as everything is done in one visit, with no need to make separate appointments and wait for your new tooth.

4. Is this new technology or is tried and tested?

CEREC was developed by Dr Werner Moermann and Dr Markus Brandistini in 1985 at the University of Zürich in Switzerland. Since this time CEREC has undergone continuous technical and clinical developments. CEREC is one of the most advanced products in world dentistry with over six million restorations worldwide. Riccarton Dentists have been using CEREC for nine years and have carried out over 4,000 restorations. (Aug 2011)

5. Do many dentists offer CEREC?

In Christchurch over 12 dental practices offer CEREC. It is also offered by a growing number of dentists throughout New Zealand.

6. What training does the dentist have to carry out this procedure?

Wayne was trained by a specialist prosthedontist in Sydney, Australia but due to continuous technical and clinical developments training is ongoing and includes seminars and training sessions with qualified Wellington-based CEREC trainers. Ongoing active networking through the growing NZ CEREC dental community also greatly contributes to dentists knowledge and expertise.