Computer-Aided Design, in other words CAD and Computer-Assisted Manufacture are the latest technologies that have brought about extreme changes in the field of dentistry today. Quintessentially, it translates to fewer dental visits to complete procedures like crowns and bridges. Conventionally, when a patient needs a crown or a bridge, the dentist has to first make a mold of the tooth. Thereafter he provides the patient with a temporary crown until the laboratory makes a permanent one. However, today with the CAD/CAM technology things have improved. The tooth is first drilled to prepare for the crown. A picture of the tooth is captured using a computer and then relayed to the machine that makes the crown. With the advent of CAD/CAM a lot of effort and time have been drastically reduced.
CAD/CAM is not only used for crowns and bridges but also used in veneers, fixed-partial dentures and full-mouth reconstructions. A typical CAD/CAM system is comprised of a scanner, software/ workstation and a mill. It is designed and manufactured by one company.
Although CAD/CAM was used in mid-1980s the early efforts were cumbersome and extremely time consuming. It required a lot of time to produce a viable product. Today, as software and materials improved the use of CAD/CAM in dentistry is highly prevalent.
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