What is CAD CAM

CAD CAM dentistry is the digital method of fabricating oral and dental devices. Historically, the analog way was to take molds of the teeth in the form of alginate and putty impressions that were held in the mouth for several minutes to copy the dental environment, 

This mold would then be picked up by a lab and used as a basis to make bridges, crowns, implants, splints and also orthodontic appliances. These days a camera that takes over a thousand photos in less than a minute is used. The images are stitched together to render a 3D image that can be emailed to the laboratory for use. The lab will design the appliance or prosthesis on a computer (Computer Aided Design/CAD)  and the software will instruct milling equipment to generate and manufacture the device to be used in the patient’s mouth (Computer Aided Manufacture/CAM)

CAD CAM advantages over the traditional method includes:

  • There is no need to place a bulky material in the mouth for an impression. This helps “gaggers” and makes their dental experience more comfortable
  • It is more accurate because there is no distortion in the impression taking process, model making process and lesser distortion in the appliance making process.
  • Communication between the lab and the dentist is enhanced to improve the final outcome
  • Generally the scan is faster than the traditional impression and costs lesser money
  • There is no large cost disparity because the cost of a CAD CAM device or a crown is comparable to that of one made the analog way
  • The manufacturing of the device is usually faster than the analog way because the delivery of the scan is done electronically via email immediately after it is taken. This also reduces the risk of damaged or lost impressions during the delivery process