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Typically CAD/CAM dental restorations are milled from solid blocks of ceramic or composite resin that closely match the basic shade of the restored tooth. Metal alloys may also be milled or digitally produced.After decayed or broken areas of the tooth are corrected by the dentist, an image (scan) is taken of the prepared tooth and the surrounding teeth. This image, called a digital impression, draws the data into a computer. Proprietary software then creates a replacement part for the missing areas of the tooth, creating a virtual restoration. This is called reverse engineering.

The software sends this virtual data to a milling machine where the replacement part is carved out of a solid block of ceramic or composite resin. Stains and glazes are fired to the surfaces of the milled ceramic crown or bridge to correct the otherwise monochromatic appearance of the restoration. The restoration is then adjusted in the patient’s mouth and cemented or bonded in place.

As in other fields, additive manufacturing (3D printing) first entered CAD/CAM dentistry in the form of laboratory experiments, but its use has since expanded; and chairside use, although not yet widespread, is advancing.

CAD/CAM technologies in dentistry are mainly used by orthopedic dentists, but newly developed advanced software allows both orthopedic surgeons and implantologists benefit from sophisticated options such as the creation of customized abutments. New concept of integrated implantology software also enables to surgically plan implants and implement the plan precisely using a surgical guide. Combining CAD/CAM software with 3D images from 3D imaging system means greater safety and security from any kind of intraoperative mistakes.

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