When Marine Veteran James Evans arrived at the Birmingham VA Dental Clinic to have a crown installed, he expected the process to take weeks. To his surprise, the crown’s design, fitting and delivery were done the same day.
The dental clinic has implemented same-day crown technology using the Sirona/Dentsply’s Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic (CEREC) process. The system is equipped with CEREC software, a Primescan scanner for taking digital impressions and a Primemill grinding and milling unit.
Pictured above, Dr. Casey Bloom, Birmingham VA dentist and CEREC CAD/CAM specialist, examines a digital impression for Evans.
With CEREC, restorations are created using computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing or CAD/CAM.
Crown placement – from two months to same day
In the past, crown placements required a minimum of two visits. The first appointment consisted of the Veteran’s tooth being prepared, a conventional tray impression being taken, and a temporary crown being fabricated and temporarily cemented.
The second appointment would be scheduled for the permanent crown placement. Typically, that interval could be up to two months.
The CEREC Primescan and Primemill system is equipped with a smart pixel sensor that processes more than 1 million 3D points per second from a wand scanner. This creates a color realistic scan of the prepped tooth and adjacent teeth.
A computer is then used to design an accurate crown that is sent to the milling machine. The crown is milled from a high strength block of ceramic materials. The final product is a strong and natural looking crown. By utilizing the CAD/CAM process, the crown requires very little adjustments after it is placed.
“This is the future of dentistry”
“The big winners are our Veteran patients,” said Dr. Frederick Bisch, Chief of Dental Services. “They can have natural looking, high-quality crowns started and completed in one day, eliminating the need to return and have the crown cemented. This will greatly increase access to dental care by eliminating that second appointment.
“Our dental clinic is excited to be a part of implementing this groundbreaking technology. It will enable our team to continue to deliver the best dental care to our Veterans and much quicker than in the past.
“This monumental leap forward is the future of dentistry. It will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the delivery of dental care to our Veterans.”
VA reached a milestone in 2021, marking the 100th anniversary of VA dental services. In 1921, Dr. Lloyd Beers of the Veterans Bureau was appointed the first National VA Chief of Dental Services.
James Branch is a public affairs specialist with the Birmingham VA Health Care System.