For patients

When you go to your modern computer based dentist, you will be privy to a new world of dentistry. Using the latest advances in computer based design and manufacture, your dental restorations will be made with micrometer accuracy.

How does software affect your teeth?

When you discuss a future dental restoration with your dentist, you will probably wonder about many things: How will you look with your new teeth? How much will it cost? Will it be painful?

However, chances are that you won’t be wondering about the type of software that is being used to create your dental restorations.But you should! The quality of your new teeth can be majorly influenced by the software used during the production. Don’t be shy to ask your dentist about the CAD/CAM system that will be used!

Did you know:

Many CAD/CAM systems only consider your teeth “in a single position” when designing a crown or bridge. This isn’t enough to create an optimal dental restoration. Instead, we digitally simulate your dynamic jaw movement, and use this information to create an optimized tooth surface. It’s called “Virtual Articulation”, and exocad is a pioneer and leader in this area.

The Dental CAD/CAM process

CAD/CAM production is gradually replacing traditional manual production methods, such as lost-wax casting. But how does the entire process work?

Impression taking and digitization

After preparation (that is, grinding away all damaged areas) of your tooth, an impression will be taken, to get an accurate representation of the situation in your mouth. This can done by using an intraoral scanning device (“digital impression”), which directly digitizes the clinical situation, resulting in a digital file, that can be used for the virtual design of your dental restoration.

But most dentists today still employ the classic method of using a so-called “impression material”, a viscous liquid that’s placed in your mouth, where it solidifies to create a negative form of your teeth. In this case, the physical shape must then be digitized, using a 3D scanner. Either the impression mould itself can be scanned, or gypsum can be poured into the mould, creating a stone model which will in turn be placed in the scanner. Since the stone model is easy and fast to scan, and will typically be required anyway later in the process, this is still the most common way.

For 3D scanning, different technologies are available. Most common is a combination of pattern/line projection and digital photography, with subsequent algorithmic processing to create a virtual 3D model from the series of photos.

Computer-aided design (CAD)

Next, your prosthetic or appliance will be designed using a CAD software. This is exocad’s core area of expertise. For simple cases, such as a single crown, the process is highly automated. For complex patient situations, the operator’s skill and experience, with state-of-the-art 3D technology at his or her hands, will lead to optimal results.

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)

Finally, the finished design will be manufactured - by CNC milling/grinding, selective laser melting, or 3D printing. This can take place either right in the dental office, at a local dental lab, or a centralized production facility that may even be located on another continent.

Did you know:

Dental CAD/CAM systems come in “open” or “closed” flavour. The “closed” systems are intentionally designed not to be interoperable with components or materials from other manufacturers, e.g. by using encrypted output file formats. An “open” system , however, saves 3D output files in a standardized file format, that can be accepted by many different production centers, and can be produced in any material available.

If your dentist or dental lab uses the open exocad software, your dentist can choose whatever material best fits your individual clinical situation and budget, instead of being restricted to whatever the system vendor forces upon him.

Curious about more details?

See our products section to learn more about what
digital tools your dentist or dental lab uses today.