DEAR DR. BOLES: I just found out I need another crown, and I’m dreading it. I remember the last one—I had to take two days off from work to do it. I read about same-day crowns. Are they better and really same day? — Laurie, Alton, NH
DEAR LAURIE: In the past, getting a crown did require two visits. The first to fit a temporary cap and a second visit to affix the permanent restoration. Now, luckily, there is a simpler, quicker, and more modern way.
The computer program you read about is called CEREC, and patients who have used it at my office have saved both time and money. With CEREC, a dental provider can fix a decayed, broken, cracked, or chipped tooth in a single office visit.
Here’s how it works. First, your dentist will take pictures of your mouth and download them onto the computer. Then, specialized software will use the digital images to carve out a restoration from a block of porcelain, right in the office. This allows your permanent restoration to be placed the same day you come in. The whole process takes about two hours.
Besides saving you time, there are some other advantages to CEREC. The porcelain used to create CEREC crowns is compressed, rather than layered, like traditional crown porcelain, which makes CEREC about four times stronger than regular crowns. This means you are less likely to suffer a crack or break. In addition, the software maps the shade of your surrounding teeth so a perfect color match can be made. Patients love that their new crowns are almost unnoticeable next to their other teeth.
I hope this gives you a good idea of an alternative way to get your next crown, so you will look forward to—rather than dread—your next dental appointment!!