CEREC is the acronym for a pretty fancy-sounding process-Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic. Now say that five times fast! But don’t worry if you can’t because CEREC refers to a process where the dentist uses a patented computer-assisted technology to make a ceramic dental filling. The dentist first takes a three-dimensional (3-D) photograph of the prepared cavity. This image is then stored in the computer, which uses 3-D CADICAM software to refine the 3-D digital model. (CAD is the acronym for Computer Aided Design and CAM is the acronym for Computer Aided Manufacturing.)
Once the software has analyzed the cavity size and approximated the shape of the tooth and filling needed, a milling machine, controlled by the computer software, carves a finished restoration from a solid ceramic block. The filling is refined, fitted, the occlusion is adjusted, and then finally it’s bonded and cemented to the tooth just like an indirect composite, inlay, or onlay would be. The big difference is that you get the equivalent of an indirect composite in just one visit to the dental office.
The CEREC system was developed in 1987 and in the hands ofa skilled dentist, there’s no doubt that the latest generation of composites and CEREC ceramics are far superior to amalgam fillings-and are a very safe filling material. The development of composite material, both direct and indirect, and the CEREC system of tooth restoration, makes the ADA’s argument that amalgam is a better filling material impossible to sustain.
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CEREC is truly an example of space age dentistry with the additional advantage of having a harder, better-fitting, and longer-lasting filling than amalgams or direct composites. Also, X-rays can penetrate a CEREC crown, allowing the dentist to see what is underneath. This is useful for detecting decay or determining if any amalgam was left behind. Plus, CEREC has the advantage of being free of Bis-GMA. To date, not all dental offices have the CEREC system.