Dentistry for the Final Frontier

Technology that brought dentistry into the 21st century creates new smiles at “warp speed.”

Everybody has something about their smile that they would like to change. It might be something simple or it might be something very complex. Today, it is possible to change a patient’s smile in a single day with CEREC® CAD/CAM technology.

Dr. Terry Alford uses CEREC® CAD/CAM dentistry to improve smiles in one day at his practice, Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center in Bradenton.

CEREC technology can be used
to fabricate veneers, crowns, inlays and onlays.

J. Terry Alford, DMD, who practices general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry at Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center in Bradenton, has been a CEREC dentist for more than 29 years. He was one of the first dentists in America to embrace this exciting and challenging innovation that enhances the patient experience.

CEREC and CAD/CAM for dentistry were introduced 30 years ago. Unfortunately, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the CAD/CAM process was complex, and the materials used were still being developed. But the benefits of CAD/CAM dentistry progressed rapidly because of CEREC technology.

“Do you remember on the television series Star Trek when Doctor Leonard McCoy, portrayed by actor DeForest Kelley, would scan a sick crewmember or alien being with the Tricorder scanner and immediately determine their sickness,” asks Dr. Alford. “Then he would turn a button on the scanner and fix the illness? We cannot quite do that yet in dentistry, but we have certainly come a long way.”

Dr. Alford, clinical director of Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center, uses his CEREC camera and computer to scan a patient’s mouth and create a beautiful smile in a day. It takes a few more sophisticated tools, such as a three-dimensional printer and very complex design software, along with an excellent dental team, but the process is amazing.

Dentistry energized

It takes two to three weeks to fashion a new smile using standard dental procedures, but CEREC makes it possible in a single day. Dr. Alford works closely with Eddie Corrales, a CEREC lab and smile design specialist, to create the awesome results. Eddie points out that although the lab process is speeded up with CEREC, the end product is superior due to the development of biocompatible and natural-looking ceramic materials that can be 3-D printer-milled in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes per tooth. But Dr. Alford still does a few things the old-fashioned way.

“We take pictures and molds of the mouth before we start,” says the dentist. “Then we begin the smile design process before we actually sit down to do the work in the clinic. We create and design the smile in the lab using modern cosmetic principles, then present the new smile to the patient. The patient takes an active role in the design.”

Then, just as the physician in Star Trek scans his patient, Dr. Alford scans his patient’s mouth, and the computer designs a smile to match what was created in the proposal. The design of the teeth is then sent to the 3-D printer and milled.

Eddie then adds his incredible artistic touch to make the teeth naturally vibrant and beautiful and, oftentimes, whiter. It only takes a day at the dentist to build the smile the patient has always wanted.

“Not everyone needs this kind of treatment,” Dr. Alford stresses. “Most often, simple bonding or whitening can give the patient a pretty smile.”

He also urges all patients to always get a second or even third opinion about their oral needs. “It is the only way you can become a smart dental consumer.”

* This article was provided by Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center.
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