Mar 4, 2011 12:09 PM by Dr. Anya Winslow

Bad toothaches no longer have to slow you down

A toothache sent Laura Englund to the dentist. X-rays revealed that she had a decaying tooth and to fix it, she needed a specialized cap called a crown to be placed atop her tooth.

"I've heard of it. Never had one," says Englund. "All I've heard were the horror stories about temporaries coming off," she adds.

Normally, this procedure requires several visits and can take up to multiple weeks.

Now, state-of-the-art technologies are enabling dentists, for certain conditions, to treat patients all in one day.

"As doctors, our objective is to mimic nature as close as possible and to do so as quickly as possible," says Dr. Nicolas Pruett of Broadmoor Dental.

Dr. Pruett's office has been using a kind of Computer-Aided Design system called CAD/CAM for a few years to help them make same day crowns.

Two tools are needed to complete the procedure: the imaging machine and a milling machine, which makes the crown.

After identifying patients who need the procedure, Dr. Pruett numbs the patient; takes impressions before anything is done; shapes the tooth that needs the crown; and then takes another impression.

A "wand," which is actually a laser, uses the impressions to construct a digital image of the tooth. Afterwards, the dentist customizes the crown to your mouth and then sends the information to the milling machine. Once milling is complete, the dentist adds color to the artificial tooth, and then it is baked to make it stronger. The final step involves cementing the tooth into the mouth. All this happens while you sit in the dentist's chair.

"It's like magic. It wasn't there and now it's there," Says Englund, ninety minutes after her procedure. Better yet, "You don't have to miss work. Normally, you hear that it takes three trips and it's like an hour per visit," she says.

As of now, the only limitation of the technology, states Dr. Pruett, is the "ability to make bridges. A bridge is three crowns linked together to replace a missing tooth. Some bridges are longer."

As for cost, "There is actually no difference in cost," says Dr. Pruett when compared to traditional crowns.

Even though this certainly is not a royal affair, Englund's first crowning was not disappointing.


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