Computers have played a critical role in the medical world in the last 50 years, assisting in every aspect of the practice from surgery to lab tests to hospital organization. Thus, it should be no surprise that computers are making big waves in dentistry as well. Computer Assisted Dentistry (CAD) and Computer Assisted Molding (CAM) are innovative new practices that make your experience far more convenient and comfortable.
CAD allows dentists to streamline the process of inserting crowns, veneers, fillings, and bridges by creating them in the office instead of taking an old-fashion and uncomfortable bite mold and sending them out to an external office to be made. Instead, a dentist uses a wand that takes high tech digital images to create a virtual mold of the problem tooth. They then use that image to design the necessary piece on the computer and send it to an in house milling machine. This machine forms the piece from porcelain that matches the color of the patient’s teeth. What used to take two weeks can now be done in about an hour.
CAD/CAM still has serious drawbacks. The sensor on the photo wand is not strong enough to see beneath the gumline. This means bite molds are still necessary for damage that extends into the gums. Additionally, the milling machine is not as precise as a mold maker and cannot reproduce the details of a front tooth. Thus, front teeth must still be replaced using molds.
Still, one would expect that these technologies will be further honed in the near future. If they are, having Computer Assisted Dentistry and Molding machines would become more popular and we might see them in more offices around the country.
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