Matters of materials science

25 02 2010

While the tradeshow floor at the Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting was the place to see the latest products, a number of other meetings around Chicago’s downtown provided clinicians and technicians a range of educational opportunities. Over at the Michigan Avenue Westin, Boston University Assistant Professor and Director of Biomaterials in the department of Restorative Dentistry/Biomaterials Russell Giordano, DMD, DMSc, FADM, Cert. Pros. provided attendees of the 84th Annual Cal-Lab meeting with detailed breakdown of some of the latest science on materials available for CAD/CAM restorations.

After opening his talk quoting statistics from DPR’s 2008 Purchasing Survey showing the growing prominence of the technology, Dr. Giordano explained that a big reason behind the growth in this segment is the success of the restorations and the reliability of the materials available for use with CAD/CAM systems. This consistency comes from the fact that the materials are milled in consistent batches and are largely free of defects, even when viewed at microscopic levels. Hand layered porcelains and pressed restorations often have tiny porosities, that are not found in the more uniform CAD/CAM blocks.

Dr. Giordano predicted an increase in full-contour restorations being sent to labs as digital impressions become more common, and said the materials required to make these restorations esthetic and durable are already available. Multi-layered CAD/CAM blocks allow for milled restorations that mimic both dentinal and enamel layers, while new millable temporary materials allow for the creation of durable and esthetic temporaries.

Testing in his and other labs shows that when properly bonded rather than cemented in place, milled restorations can have lengthy, functional lives in the mouths of patients. A key to this lasting success can be found in the smaller particle size of the newer materials. Smaller particles mean the restorations are kinder to opposing dentition, and thus more likely to be successful. With the durability of a range of millable materials continuing to be proven in laboratory testing and in the mouths of a growing number of patients, properly designed and placed CAD/CAM restorations, even full-contours, should play a big role in the future of dentistry.

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