Ceramic Veneers and The Future of Cosmetic Dentistry

Following centuries without improvement, the 1980s laid the foundations for a technological revolution in dentistry. In 1981, Dr Hideo Kodama invented the first 3D printer, a machine that could create parts from layers of resin. Four years later, an American dental equipment manufacturer called Dentsply Sirona adapted CAD/CAM technology in the groundbreaking process now known as CEREC 3D dentistry for creating ceramic veneers, crowns and other restorations without the help of a skilled dental mechanic.

These are just two of the many new technologies that are making life simpler and more economical for dentists and their patients. Others include an array of 2D and 3D dental imaging devices that offer the dentist unprecedented detail of the teeth, soft tissues, and jawbone.

Scientific advances are now occurring every week, and some will inevitably be adapted for use in dentistry. This article explores some of these groundbreaking innovations and speculates on possible developments for dentists in the future.

 

What are Ceramic Veneers?

The principle is similar to that used by cabinet makers when applying a thin layer of natural wood to improve the appearance of furniture made from plywood or fibreboard. In dentistry, these ceramic restorations are

attached to the surface of a tooth with a strong dental adhesive to alter its colour, shape or size.

Traditional methods of preparing crowns, inlays, onlays and veneers required multiple visits to the dentist and were often a source of discomfort for the patient. However, many cosmetic dentists have since embraced a more efficient and patient-friendly option: CEREC 3D dentistry.

 

About the CEREC 3D Process

The acronym stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of (A)Esthetic Ceramics, a game-changing advance that enables dentists to manufacture and fit ceramic veneers in a single visit. The process involves four steps as follows:

  • Scanning: First, the dentist uses a specialised intraoral camera to capture detailed high-resolution images of the target teeth, eliminating the need to prepare messy and uncomfortable dental impressions.
  • Designing: The images are uploaded to a computer where Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software enables the dentist to fashion veneers that precisely match the patient’s specifications, thus ensuring a natural look and a perfect fit.
  • Manufacturing: There are two ways to create veneers. The design data can be transmitted to a milling machine, where the restorations are produced subtractively from a ceramic block. Alternatively, a 3D printer can use the data additively to build them from layers of composite resin.
  • Fitting: The ceramic veneers will receive a final polish before the patient’s tooth is prepared. The facial and incisal aspects of the tooth must first be reduced to accommodate the restoration, after which it is bonded in position with a strong adhesive.

 

Future Trends in Cosmetic Dentistry

Technological advances will continue to drive the future of cosmetic dentistry in various ways, including the following:

  • Improved materials will enable stronger restorations with the natural translucency of real teeth.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning capable of analysing vast quantities of data will optimise the fit of ceramic veneers.
  • Further advances in dental imaging will increase speed and precision, reducing production time and costs.

 

Dr Ivan Marx will continue to embrace emerging technologies to optimise patient outcomes. We invite you to contact us for more details about CEREC 3D and ceramic restorations.

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