When it comes to dental crowns, patients have long loved the convenience of the CEREC CAD/CAM system, but some patients do ask if these crowns are as good as the those made by traditional dental labs. They particularly want to know how long these crowns last, because no one wants to have them redone any sooner than necessary. With that in mind, I happened to see a patient recently who has in her mouth the longest-lasting CEREC crown that I’ve ever done: my Mom!
Porcelain Dental Crown Materials are the Same in Lab & Office
The simple fact is that both labs and CEREC offices use identical materials when making most porcelain crowns, onlays, and veneers. For many years, Empress and VITA ceramics were highly used, but today the 2 most common materials are E.max and Zirconia, although there are many others available. Even when dentists use traditional impression materials today, almost all labs still have scanners to convert the models into digital format to design and mill the crowns, bridges, or onlays. That’s why dentists with CAD/CAM systems and labs use identical materials, because we’re using extremely similar methods to make them. Because manufacturers can provide the same materials in the same sizes and shapes to both labs and dentists, it has helped keep the cost of these new methods steady. That’s why we don’t charge a different fee based on doing it with CEREC or sending it to the lab.
It’s true that most dental offices using CEREC can only make onlays, crowns, and bridges from E.max; the oven necessary to bake and crystallize Zirconia crowns only became broadly and affordably available within the last couple years, but they still cost about $15,000. It’s also true that it takes a bit longer to bake Zirconia crowns than Emax, so even though they can be done in 1 appointment, it will be a longer one. We will probably be adding one of these ovens later in 2017 if all goes well.
A 17-Year Old CEREC Empress Crown
When I first opened Smiles by Payet Dentistry in December 1999, I did something a bit rash. Even before I had a single patient, I decided to invest in the CEREC 2 CAD/CAM system. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I only came to regret it later for various reasons. Still, I did use it (when I could make it work right), and one of the earliest patients I treated was my Mom, who needed a crown on her top left 1st molar, or tooth #14. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the Before treatment photos from those days, but I can show you how well it looks 17 years later. Without further ado…my Mom’s 17 year old CEREC crown (placed in 2000, in case you see this article and it’s been even longer)!
Part of what makes this really remarkable is that an endodontist, or root canal specialist, drilled a hole through the crown to do a root canal about 5 years after the crown was put in. He did a great job of keeping the hole small and conservative, and he placed a well-done bonded filling in the hole to reinforce the crown, but still! Those older Empress crowns usually didn’t do too well with holes in them, but this one has lasted 12 years like that so far.
Of course, I should mention that the gold crown on the second molar is probably 20-30 years old, and the kind of ugly PFM crown in front of it is also over 20 years old, but we’re about to replace it with a new CEREC E.max crown. No way I’ll replace that gold crown until necessary, though, because gold is still the best material in dentistry.
If you’re interested in CEREC Same-Day Crowns, you can
Request an Appointment Online or call us at 704-364-7069.
We’ll look forward to meeting you soon!