When a tooth has become damaged or decayed, it may need to be crowned or “capped.” The cap restores the original appearance and functionality of the tooth. Dental caps are extremely durable and made with a custom fit that covers the entire tooth beginning at the gum line.In the past, the process required at least two trips (sometimes three) to the dentist, uncomfortable alignment impressions, a temporary crown and waiting from one to three weeks for a lab to make the permanent crown. read more about this topic for more info.
A new innovation in digital technology now makes same-day dental crowns possible. The entire procedure is completed in one time-saving visit using a camera, computer and milling machine incorporated into one instrument. This advancement in restorative dentistry eliminates the need for alignment impressions, temporary crowns or the use of an outside lab to construct the crown. The process starts the same way as traditional crowns, by preparing the tooth for the cap. First, the area is numbed and the damaged tooth is drilled to get rid of any decay and to shape it for the crown. This makes sure the crown will fit perfectly when placed over the damaged tooth.
Instead of taking an impression of the area using a putty-like substance (the procedure for traditional crowns), your teeth are lightly dusted with reflective powder. Then, a wand with a built-in small camera that is attached to the computer takes a picture of the area. The camera uses reflected light from the powder to create a three-dimensional image of the drilled tooth and adjoining teeth.
The image is then electronically transferred onto a computer screen. Special Computer Aided Design (CAD) software creates the cap design from the image. All the details are included in the design, from size and shape to indentations and ridges. The software also allows for easy modification of the design as needed. You can even create a mirror-image of the same non-damaged tooth on the other side of your mouth.
The final cap design is sent to the milling machine with a single mouse click. The machine sculpts the cap from a tiny ceramic block that is the closest match to the natural color of your teeth. The carving process takes about five minutes.The appearance of the cap can be further enhanced with quick-drying stain and glaze. The stain and glaze are painted on to the crown using tiny brushes. After the additional coloring has been completed, the finished crown is placed in your mouth and bonded to the old tooth.
The entire process can be completed while you wait, usually within an hour. Just like traditional caps, same-day dental caps are extremely durable and will have a natural looking appearance. They are maintained just like your own teeth – with daily brushing and flossing, which will help reduce dental plaque build-up. If you grind your teeth at night, make sure you wear a nightguard. Same-day caps will not only save you time in the dental chair, you’ll be able to quickly and easily restore your beautiful smile.