CEREC 25 kicks off CAD/CAM’s anniversary celebration

26 08 2010

Part celebration, part classroom and a little bit of a revival meeting for missionaries of CAD/CAM dentistry, Sirona’s CEREC 25 event attracted about 3,000 dentists, assistants, lab technicians and dental manufacturer reps to Caesers Palace Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip for three days of education, inspiration and fun that kicked off today.

CEREC systems

Four generations of the CEREC CAD/CAM system

Well actually, things got underway last night at a Dental Products Report-sponsored wine and cheese reception. But after all the socializing and post-reception fun in Las Vegas, it was impressive to see the large crowds up early for the pre-meeting breakfast in an exhibit hall featuring more than 50 exhibitors.

After the crowds migrated downstairs to the general session ballroom, Sirona President Michael Augins welcomed the crowd and relayed just how far adoption of the CEREC CAD/CAM system has come during the last five of the technology’s 25 years. In 2001 there were 1,300 CEREC owners and now there are more than 27,000 worldwide, with 11,000 residing and working in the United States. Augins welcomed all the attendees and said they are important because they share the dream that soon “CEREC will just be the way that dentistry is performed all day, every day.”

Dr. Imtiaz Manji next took over the wide stage, which is backed by a massive video screen and flanked by another pair of screens. Serving as the MC for the weekend, Dr. Manji provided a pep talk spiced with details supporting the usefulness and efficacy of CEREC and CAD/CAM dentistry.

Besides offering clinical advantages in terms of time and patient advantages in terms of convenience and quality, Dr. Manji explained how the return on investment really works with CAD/CAM systems and the technology can make dentists better at what they do. He lauded the improvements in the system added that CEREC and chairside CAD/CAM actually offers the potential to make the partnership between dentists and dental labs more effective for patients.

“With CEREC Connect we’re able to work with our labs and make sure that the right cases get done with our CEREC and the right cases get done with our labs,” he explained.

The focus turned to esthetic outcomes with the next keynote speaker, Dr. Frank Spear of the Spear Institute for Advanced Dental Education, who demonstrated how fundamental dental knowledge and the ability to correctly diagnose and plan a case is the real key to achieving esthetic and functional success with CAD/CAM dentistry. Getting patients to accept treatment presentations is really about finding the solution to fit that individual patient, he explained, and provided examples of a range of different tooth wear cases that all hinged on understanding the cause of the wear in order to successfully address the case.

“The key to making the most of CEREC is knowing how to recognize when it can be used,” he said, and later added, “The patients are in your practice. You have to see them and learn how to talk to them.”

For the midmorning presentations, the stage was turned over to Drs Gordon and Rella Christensen, co-founders of CLINICIANS REPORT who used their respective times on stage to explain different aspects of why CAD/CAM is a big part of the future of dentistry.

Dr. Gordon Christensen

Dr. Gordon Christensen speaks about CAD/CAM's impact on the dental industry.

“This is an evolution in dentistry that requires some missionaries,” Dr. Gordon Christensen told the crowd after pointing out that CAD/CAM dentists still make up just a small percentage of the American dentist population.

He continued by saying he believes all general practitioners could make use of CAD/CAM and the technology allows dentists to provide better, less invasive treatments such as inlays and onlays rather than just crowns. He expects all-ceramic restorations to continue their growth in the industry with the growth of full-contour zirconia and lithium disilicate occurring at an astoundingly fast pace. His research shows that when done to high clinical standards, all-ceramic restorations have the same or better longevity than any other material and technique choice available today.

While Dr. Gordon Christensen said he sees a CAD/CAM future for the industry, it will need smaller, less complex and more multi-faceted systems that offer less expensive restorations before it really becomes the true norm.

His wife of 51 years Dr. Rella Christensen then stepped to the podium to present findings from her research on materials used with CAD/CAM and traditional restorations. While she said every restoration eventually leaks, dentists who are careful about their techniques and precise in their work can achieve even better and longer lasting results by using CAD/CAM technology. In fact, most of the failed crowns in her studies are due to dental errors and not problems with the materials.

“My message today is that machines and materials can deliver. The dentist is the variable,” she said.

The afternoon sessions turned toward the cutting edge of technology with Dr. Jay Reznick explaining how CAD/CAM fits into an implant workflow. Demonstrating the new capability of CEREC to work in concert with Sirona’s Galileos cone beam system, Dr. Reznick said it is now possible for guided implant surgery to be performed more quickly and accurately than ever before.

The system combines the intraoral scan and the 3D imaging technologies to allow the crown design to come first and the implant planning to be based on supporting that design. Dr. Reznick said this allows for optimal function and esthetics when the case is restored.  It’s a move from a surgical model to a prosthetic model when it comes to case planning, and it means better results for patients.

“The way we did dentistry 20 years ago has changed. I can do things for you now that didn’t exist 20 years ago,” he said. “We update our phone, why would we not update the way we do things in our practice.”

Dr. Mark Morin was up next to provide a live demo of some of the CEREC systems latest software updates and to encourage the crowd to be excited about the work they do with the system. Dr. Morin related the story of the first CEREC restoration he placed in 1989 and showed that it was still in good shape 20 years later when the patient had that tooth extracted for unrelated reasons. A firm believer in the power of CAD/CAM, he provided an exciting voice in praise of what CEREC can do for a practice.

“I believe this technology is built for speed, precision and profitability,” he said. “The key to our success is going to be able to do a crown efficiently in one visit.”

The crowd rose to their feet when CEREC inventor. Dr. Werner Mörmann took the stage to walk everyone through the history of his invention. The Swiss professor talked about coming up with the concept in the early 80s and overcoming numerous technological hurdles such as the lack of three-dimensional imaging technologies, suitable materials for milling or any software to make it all work.

The system which gets its name from shortening the term “ceramic reconstruction” finally came together in 1985 and has been improved upon continuously since then. While he plans to retire soon, Dr. Mörmann said he looks forward to seeing future developments in both the design of the system components such as the scanning wand and the materials used to mill esthetic and durable restorations.

“This is definitely a highly exciting field of research,” he said.

To close out the day, gold medal winning Olympic wrestler Rulon Gardner shared his story of overcoming obscurity and adversity on and off the matt. Tomorrow the event continues with break out sessions on a range of CAD/CAM topics on more keynotes from leading lights of the dental industry.

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