Local News

New Dental Technology A 'Crowning' Achievement

Posted April 17, 2002

— Most people like to spend as little time as possible in the dentist's office. Getting a crown usually takes more than one visit. New technology is getting the job done faster.

Alethia Norman has a mouth full of silver fillings, several of which are wearing off. She needs a

crown

to protect one of those teeth. Getting a crown usually requires several dental visits.

Dr. Vincent Allison, a Durham dentist, uses a new type of technology, called CEREC, that creates a crown in one visit.

Allison said Norman does not need a complete crown, just an onlay that covers and protects the tooth.

"We don't have to remove as much tooth structure," he said.

Allison removes the old filling and takes an optical impression of the area with a small camera. Then he designs the onlay.

The image is sent to a milling station, which carves a block of porcelain into the exact shape needed.

Allison cements the onlay into the hole in the tooth. In less than 90 minutes, the large silver filling is replaced by a stronger, toothlike cover.

"The only person that really knows that you've got that restoration is you, because you sat there in the chair and got it done, and your dentist, because he put it in," Allison said.

Norman likes the new look and the fact that the procedure did not hurt.

"I just didn't feel anything. I was painless to me," she said.

Norman said she hopes to have her other fillings crowned the same way.

Several dentists in the Triangle are using CEREC. The new type of crown costs about the same as a traditional one.

Allison said the technology is new, so many insurance companies are just starting to cover some of the costs.

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