Digital technology, computerized dentistry, and digital dentistry are general terms used to describe the clinical application of computer-assisted design, computer-assisted machining (CAD/CAM).
The restorative dentistry application of CAD/CAM technology is the fabrication and delivery of permanent restorations for teeth and implants. For the past 30 years the incorporation of dental CAD/CAM into direct patient care has provided a way for dentists to deliver esthetic ceramic restorations in a single dental appointment.
There are three sequences involved in the CAD/CAM process: An intraoral scanner or camera is used to accurately record the hard and soft tissue geometry of the patient’s intraoral condition to a computer program in the first sequence. A proprietary software design program is used to create a virtual restoration (the volume proposal) in the second sequence.Once the proposal of the restoration has been completed, a computer-controlled device is used to produce the restoration in the third sequence.
Chairside CAD/CAM systems employ all three sequences of the CAD/CAM process in the dental office. They also record intraoral scans but provide, in addition, a software program for designing restorations as well as milling units to fabricate the restoration during a single dental appointment.