LOS ANGELES (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - It's the stuff of science fiction showing up in dental offices. Dentists and prosthodontists are using computers to make teeth, implants, and dentures.
The process is called computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, or CAD CAM.
Irene Hasal has been through the wringer with her teeth. She had many procedures to fix problems and finally got implants. Within a month, her teeth were breaking.
Then, Dr. Mamaly Reshad, a prosthodontist at the Anacapa Dental Art Institute told her about CAD CAM. A computer scans the patient's mouth to make a custom image of what's needed.
"We put it inside the computer like a cartoon, an avatar, and from there, we create a tooth, a virtual tooth," Dr. Reshad said. "The virtual tooth becomes a real tooth through a manufacturing process."
A computer-aided milling machine makes teeth out of a block of ceramic or composite resin.
Dr. Reshad used CAD CAM for Hasal's whole procedure. It helped him to find the best placement for her implants, and to make a prosthesis.
Hasal's case was complicated and took almost a year. But CAD CAM can do one to two teeth in a morning.
"Now because it's going through this avatar, the computer, it can be done almost instantaneously; the same day. At least within two hours," Dr. Reshad explains.
It brought a perfect smile to Hasal's face.
"I can do anything I want now. They fit great, they're beautiful and my face is the proper shape," Hasal said. "So I couldn't be happier."
The CAD CAM process takes much less time than a conventional procedure, which can take weeks. Dr. Reshad says on average, it costs about 30 percent less and it is not typically covered by insurance.