Little Shop of Horrors or Modern Dentistry?

Now say “ah”!

I haven’t required any dental work for several years. Last week, I went in to have a crown replaced, and expected the usual (pardon my pun) drill of the crown being yanked off, some grinding on the remains of my molar, impressions with plastic goop, and a poorly fitting odd-color temporary crown being stuck on with Dubble Bubble. A week or two later (having had to re-glue the crown at least once), I would return for the permanent crown, which entailed some additional fitting and sanding, before the extra-strength gorilla glue came out.

Prices have gone up a bit.

Sometime in the last few years, dentistry has changed. While many dentists still send the lab work to an offsite location, some, like my dentist, do everything in-house.

After removing  my old crown with a fancy Dremel and pried off, my dentist used a camera-on-a-wand to take multiple 3-D pictures of my tooth and the surrounding teeth, including the opposing teeth in the lower jaw. Uploading into a computer, the software modeled a replacement crown that fit into the spacing, had proper distances from adjacent teeth, and meshed perfectly with my bite. She then used Photoshop (not the actual name) to smooth out areas, remove high points, and adjust the fit. I asked her about her training, the equipment, and the software while she designed my new tooth,  asking her if she emailed the design file, or uploaded it to the lab.

photo 1

The lone white spot on the left is my remaining tooth, while the beige is the area that will be the new crown. The blue and red spots are the ‘high’ areas that would touch first when I close my bite. She smoothed those away so that my bite was even.

But there is more! She has a lab on site, and the crown would be made while I waited. Actually, it was made while I watched. The technician matched my tooth color and loaded a blank into the machine. while Doc sent the corrected files. Once loaded into the lathe, two sides of the blank are simultaneously sculpted by fine drills, with fine sprays of water for coolant and lubrication on the blank. One side sculpts the outside of the tooth, while the other side drills out the interior, custom-fitted to go over the nub of real tooth that remains.

Computer placing crown within blank

Computer placing crown within blank

The time from door shut until my tooth was finished? Seven minutes. When the last slice cut the tooth from the blank shaft, it dropped into a bin, not unlike a candy bar falling out of a vending machine. Only at 1400 times the price.

Like a claw machine, only for grownups

Like a claw machine, only for grownups

Tooth nearly finished.

Tooth nearly finished.

The technician filed off a tab that was the last piece holding tooth to shaft, and there it was. A complete and ready-to-assemble crown, in under 10 minutes.

I left with a brand new shiny, perfectly fitting permanent crown 90 minutes after i walked into the office. I ♥ modern medicine!

My new molar, ready to cement.

My new molar, ready to cement.



The blanks of previous patients

The blanks of previous patients

Categories: General Stuff!

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