CEREC is short for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, a method of CAD/CAM dentistry developed at the University of Zurich in 1980 for creating dental restorations. Using CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing), this process allows us to construct, produce, and insert individual ceramic or porcelain restorations directly at the point of treatment (chairside). This occurs in a single appointment, rather than over multiple appointments, with off-site laboratory work in between.
During a chairside treatment, the dentist carries out all the steps, from digital impressions and computer-based construction of the restoration to the milling process. The dentist uses an intraoral camera to take a photo of the preparation, the opposite teeth, and the bite situation. Based on the images, the CEREC software creates a virtual model of the patient’s teeth. The dentist uses this model to design the tooth restoration on the screen and then sends the data to a milling machine.
Depending on the type of restoration, it is then milled out of a colour-matched ceramic block using diamond-coated milling units. The dentist can then add the finishing touches to the restoration by painting, polishing, and glazing it, before adhesively integrating it.
CEREC technology makes it possible to produce and integrate ceramic restorations in a single appointment. Unlike other materials such as amalgam or gold, ceramic is more biocompatible and boasts tooth-like physical and aesthetic qualities. In addition, digital impressions are more comfortable for patients than traditional impressions.