If you have ever noticed silver teeth in the back of someone’s mouth while talking to them, you were most likely looking at a dental crown. A crown works like a cap over the entire tooth that is damaged. Crowns protect broken or decayed teeth and can allow the tooth to function normally without pain or sensitivity.
Most traditional crowns are made of metals like stainless steel, gold, or nickel. More discrete options use ceramic fused to a metal cap for a more natural look.
While crowns have been around for many years, a new technological advancement has shortened the time it takes to create a crown while producing a perfect fit. This upgrade is called the Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic (CEREC) crown.
What's the Difference Between Traditional and CEREC Crowns?
The new CEREC same-day crowns have incredible advantages over traditional crowns, offering patients a better fit, less time at the dentist, and less pain and sensitivity.
Durability and Color
Traditional crowns made out of metal are known for their toughness and longevity. While more discrete ceramic-fused metal crowns are available, the thinness of the ceramic can crack under pressure.
CEREC crowns are made of an extremely durable ceramic or dental resin that can be matched perfectly to the color of your other teeth, so they won’t stick out in any way.
One major disadvantage of most crowns is that they can take ten days to three weeks to be made with your tooth’s particular shape. On the other hand, the entire process of making a CEREC crown and securing it in your mouth can take about two hours. In some cases, you may even be able to get a dental crown in an hour.
The Need for a Temporary Crown
When a tooth is prepped for a traditional crown, patients are expected to wear a temporary crown over the tooth stub following the initial appointment, which can be sensitive and uncomfortable while they wait for their permanent crown to be made. Once their crown is ready, the patient will go in for a second appointment to replace the temporary crown with the permanent crown.
For patients who opt for a CEREC crown, a temporary crown is never needed. The dentist preps the tooth, creates a durable, discrete dental crown, and places it into your mouth all in one visit.
Common Ground Between CEREC Crowns and Traditional Crowns
Both CEREC crowns and traditional crowns can last 10 years or more with good oral hygiene and cost somewhere in the same ballpark, depending on the materials used, where the crown is located, and the dentist’s prices. CEREC crowns cost between $800-$3000, which is similar to traditional crowns that cost anywhere between $1000-$3500.
How CEREC Crowns Work
CEREC crowns are a unique improvement in dental technology because they involve combining several new computer advancements.
To create a CEREC crown, first, the dentist takes an image of your tooth to create a 3D digital impression instead of using the thick dental plaster commonly used to make dental impressions.
The dentist will then use Computer Aided Design (CAD) to create the blueprint for the crown.
Next, the dentist will use Computer Aided Manufacturing as a milling unit to take the design and make it into a tangible crown that can be placed into a patient’s mouth.
Within one dental appointment, a CEREC same-day crown can be formed by a single dentist, when before, a crown would take weeks involving several professionals to create a similar product.
If CEREC crowns interest you, you might be like to learn more about the many other types of crowns that are available!
Benefits of CEREC Crowns
The benefits of a CEREC crown make getting this type of dental restoration an easy choice. The pros of having a CEREC crown are:
Less Time in the Dentist's Chair
You only need one appointment to prep the tooth and place the crown, which means one less copay or dental office fee that will come out of your pocket. And, of course, this also means no waiting between appointments before you finally get a permanent crown.
No Temporary Crown
You never have to wear an uncomfortable temporary crown. Because a temporary crown is not custom-made for your mouth, it doesn't feel natural. Some temporary crowns can fall out as you wait for your next dental appointment. This can leave your prepped tooth exposed and sensitive, increasing the risk of injury.
CEREC crowns are durable and last 15 years or longer. Oral hygiene has much to do with how long a crown will last in your mouth. If you consistently brush your teeth twice a day and remember to floss, your CEREC crown can last a long time.
Precise Placement and Better Fit
Because of the digital imaging, the impression made for your CEREC crown can exactly replicate your tooth. This means that it will fit well between the adjacent teeth.
CEREC crowns, while made of quality ceramic material, have a lower cost of production because a single dentist can create the digital impression and mill the crown using technology all during the same dental visit. The lower cost of manufacturing a CEREC crown keeps the price competitive with traditional crowns even though patients can wait weeks for a traditional crown to be created.
No Messy Dental Impression
A traditional dental impression is made by sinking your teeth into dental plaster. The thick paste and odd sensation can make many patients gag in response. But because a small camera makes a digital impression for CEREC crowns, the whole mess of dental plaster can be completely avoided.
Perfect Color Match to Your Other Teeth
A dentist can color the CEREC crown to match your other teeth. Visually, this makes it so no one can tell which tooth has a crown when looking at your teeth.
Feels and Functions Like a Real Tooth
Because of the smoothness and durability of the outer ceramic layer, the crown will feel like a normal tooth. You also won't have to be any gentler with the crown than you do with your normal teeth.
Dental technology like CEREC crowns have been making breakthroughs in dentistry! Come read more if you'd like to learn more about the newest tech in dentistry!
Cons of CEREC Crowns
While the benefits of getting a CEREC crown far outweigh any drawbacks, there are a few disadvantages if you opt for a CEREC crown.
Not all dentists are trained with this new technology, nor do their practices have the equipment to mill a CEREC crown on-site within a single appointment.
If you know you may possibly need a crown placed over a tooth, you may have to search around for a dental practice that provides this procedure if your current dentist does not offer CEREC crowns as an option.
Color Quality Varies
Getting the color of your CEREC crown to match the rest of your teeth comes down to the dentist's skill. While getting a perfect color match is possible, if your dentist has not mastered the art of picking the right color, you may be less than satisfied with the results. While a CEREC crown that is slightly off-color won't be noticeable in the back of your mouth, the smallest variation of color can be noticeable if you need a crown on your front teeth.
Not Good for Every Situation
While CEREC crowns are incredibly convenient, there are still situations where a traditional crown is better suited. If your tooth has a crack, the camera used to make a digital impression of your tooth will not be able to see under the gum line. If you place a CEREC crown on top of a tooth with a deep crack that extends under the gums, the CEREC crown will not fit properly.
Wear and Tear
CEREC crowns are tough, but compared to metal crowns, a CEREC crown can end up with more wear and tear from everyday use. It can still last as long as a traditional crown, but it may start to show its age earlier.
Find a Dentist Near You
To find a dentist near you that provides CEREC crowns as an alternative to traditional crowns, use the Find a Dentist tool by Smile Generation. It is an easy way to find the perfect dentist that offers all the services you seek to keep your mouth happy and healthy.
Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment.