When a tooth has become damaged from decay or fracture, sometimes a crown (cap) is required to restore the tooth back to its full strength and chewing function. A crown is a covering that completely surrounds the part of your tooth that is above the gum line. The first stage of a crown procedure is called the “preparation” where the dental decay is removed, and the tooth is shaped so that it will fit perfectly inside of the crown.

At this point in the traditional crown process, an impression (mold) of the tooth would be taken and sent to an off-site dental laboratory, where the crown is fabricated. This process can take between 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, a temporary crown is made from acrylic (yes, the same acrylic that fake nails are made of) and cemented to the tooth with temporary cement. At the second appointment 2-3 weeks later, the temporary crown is removed, the tooth is cleaned, and the permanent crown from the lab is permanently cemented.

Recent technological developments in dentistry called Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Milling (CAD/CAM), now allow us to manufacture permanent dental crowns in the clinic within minutes, as opposed to 2-3 weeks. This permanent crown is then cemented during the same visit as the crown preparation.

With the new CAD/CAM method, after the crown is shaped, a wand-like device called an intra-oral scanner is used to take 3D images of the crown preparation and surrounding teeth. After less than a minute, the computer connected to the scanner generates a 3D digital replica. While you are waiting, the software designs the crown to perfectly fit your tooth, bite, and esthetics.

A special block of dental ceramic (porcelain) is selected in a shade (color) that matches the color of the surrounding teeth for a completely natural appearance. This block is then mounted inside of the milling unit. The milling unit is a machine with 3 robotic arms, 2 of which have dental drills attached to them. The 3rd arm holds the ceramic block.

Once the crown design is transmitted from the scanning computer to the milling unit, the manufacturing process starts. In less than 10 minutes, the milling unit carves the crown out of the ceramic block. The finished crown is polished and bonded to the prepared tooth. No need for any additional appointments.

The advantages are, only 1 appointment is required, you only need to get numb once, and no time is spent wearing a temporary crown. Same-day crowns have been shown to be just as strong, natural in appearance, and long-lasting as traditional lab-made crowns.

Starting in February 2023, we are pleased to start offering same-day crowns at our Henderson, NV location – Roseman Dental & Orthodontics. We are excited to continue offering our patients the latest in dental technologies and treatment options. If you are in the Las Vegas Valley and are interested in seeing how same-day crowns can help restore your smile, contact us today!

Author: Dr.Matthew Thacker, DMD, BS