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Digital Technology Helping Dental Patients

Using Techniques Common in Auto and Aerospace Industries

Ann Arbor, MI — February 19, 2016 — The increasing use of digital technology is beginning to affect dental patients in positive ways because of techniques the oral health care profession has borrowed from the aerospace and automotive industries. 

Dr. Lisa Kane, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, says the trend is gaining momentum particularly in fabricating dental crowns, which patients frequently refer to as “caps.”   

“Using Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) to mill a crown from a block of metal, instead of traditional casting using ceramic material, means potentially better accuracy and a better fit for patients since CAD/CAM eliminates a number of opportunities for error in the fabrication process,” she says.  Kane teaches in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, Division of Prosthodontics, and is a diplomate with the American Board of Prosthodontics.

Kane says her study used milled cobalt chromium, similar to what is being used in the automotive and aerospace industries, where a crown was milled from a block of metal instead of being made by traditional casting.  “This metal is economical to use, compared to gold crowns that have been used extensively over the years, and is more efficient,” she says.  “This manufacturing technique is more precise since fewer steps are involved which reduces chances for error.  For patients, that’s very beneficial since their “caps” are even more snug than they were in the past.”

Kane’s work was published last November in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry.