As dentistry evolves, dentist must decide what side of the evolution or revolution of dentistry they are on. When my grandparents were alive, their idea of the dentist was a place where you go and get teeth “yanked out” or some other painful and unpleasant experience. Dentistry in the new millennium is all about prevention, painless, and fast. With technology comes the expectation of perfection. Paperless is the norm, a clean bill of health with no cavities is the goal, and people actually look for the “right” dentist to provide them with whiter teeth, painless procedures, and lasting results.
This brings me to the topic of same day crowns. Traditionally when a patient needs a crown, you can pencil them in for at least to visits. They probably have to miss work twice, they will need Novocain twice, they will need to recover twice, and wait two weeks (on average) while their crown is being fabricated by an outsourced lab. All the meanwhile wearing an uncomfortable temporary crown that carries many restrictions such as avoiding certain foods, expecting sensitivity, the color may not completely match, or worse, it falls off before your appointment.
Advancements in dentistry and in digital imaging have come so far that it is part of the curriculum at most major dental institutes. Students are using digital imaging in place of impressions for such things as crowns, veneers, bridges, and clear braces. When they graduate and open their own practice, they look for equipment that they are familiar with. They are more likely to embrace the latest techniques and equipment than say a dentist who graduated 20 years ago and sees no reason change what is already working for them.
Back to same day crowns, with digital imaging the doctor is able to fabricate crowns without compromising beauty and quality. This is how the technology works: The doctor numbs up the patient like usual, prepares the tooth for the crown like usual, then instead of the gooey impression, the “scan” the teeth with a digital imaging system, then design the crown (right there in front of the patient), the information then is transferred wirelessly to the milling unit. In the milling unit, a porcelain block is placed and the machine begins to shape the square block into the crown the doctor designed. Once this process is completed (usually takes 7-14 minutes), the crown is polished and glazed (almost like pottery), then placed in the oven where the heat transforms it into a beautiful piece of art. The turnaround time for same day crowns is usually 1-2 hours instead of 2 weeks. This saves the patient time and the doctor over head cost. There is no metal in the crown and the material is just as durable. This is Technology’s answer to the here and now, to the demand for quality and efficiency.