Dentistry has moved on from its dark past of treating a generation raised with poor oral health. However, surveys show that half of us still have the fear of visiting a dentist with 12 per cent reporting extreme anxiety. To calm your nerves, this article isn’t about having your teeth drilled and pulled.

Have no fear, the new age is here – A new style of dentistry uses computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) methods that changes old ways used for implants, dentures, crowns, bridges and other oral architecture.

CAD/CAM complements earlier technologies used for these purposes by any combination of increasing the speed of design and creation; increasing the convenience or simplicity of the design, creation, and insertion processes; and making possible restorations and appliances that otherwise would have been infeasible.

Other goals include reducing unit cost and making affordable restorations and appliances that otherwise would have been prohibitively expensive. CAD/CAM is one of the most competent dental lab technologies.

How it works

The typical month-long wait for a crown fit from molding to delivery, is now replaced by a new precision-digitized method that can be done within the day. CAD/CAM dentistry uses subtractive processes such as CNC milling and additive processes such as 3D printing, to produce physical instances from 3D models.

Your teeth are scanned with a wireless intraoral scanner that feeds information to a computer that displays images for the dentist before a machine fabricates the crown. The dentist then does whatever is needed and you’re set to go.

The estimated start-up expense for this new style is about $16,000 for the scanning equipment and another $95,000 for the fabricating machines.

Equipping dentists with 3D scanners and displays can draw patients into their treatment. Patients will be able to take home 3D scans of their mouth to show family and friends. The technology also helps dentists to pass more control to the patient by engaging them.

According to the survey paper in the British Dental Journal, majority of surveyed dentists were interested in incorporating CAD/CAM into their workflow while most believed that it will have a big role in the future. Cost and training are important things to get right, but we are going to start seeing this sort of technology in every dental clinic over the next five years.

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