Integrating CAD/CAM dentistry into your practice with advanced materials

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In the early days of CAD/CAM dentistry, there weren’t many material choices, limiting what clinicians could do with the technology. There also was a perception that restorations delivered in one day were inferior to those designed and milled by a lab technician. That’s no longer the case, with restorations created chairside now rivaling just about anything that comes out of a dental lab.

Today, dentists have many material options to choose from, with ceramics, resins and zirconia among the possibilities. Each option comes with its own benefits; dentists just need to choose the material that they like working with the best, and that provides the strength and esthetics required for the indication. As long as clinicians follow the proper procedures for polishing and firing, they can quickly create beautiful, long-lasting restorations for patients in just one visit.

New options mean dentists no longer must rely on porcelain, a weaker material, for single-visit restorations. With these advanced materials, dentists can now provide patients with esthetic, strong restorations, without having to worry about them returning because of a failure. Dentistry has not only become faster and more convenient, but it’s also become more reliable.

New possibilities for practice growth

Advancements in CAD/CAM materials and technology have broadened the types of restorations dentists can offer in a single visit. Traditional crowns, inlays, onlays, and veneers are still popular options, but now patients also can leave with multiunit restorations, implants, aligners, and nightguards. The technology just keeps getting better, further expanding the single-visit possibilities. With the new materials available, dentists can do almost anything in-house that a lab can do.

The benefits of single-visit dentistry accrue to patients and practices. Patients are busy and love the idea of leaving with their final restoration after just one visit. This makes them more likely to accept treatment, a huge benefit for practices. And because restorations require fewer appointments, practices can see more patients throughout the day, boosting revenues.

Many of the additional patients a practice can see chairside will come from referrals. Current patients will be impressed with the technology, making them more likely to talk up the practice to family and friends and to post about their positive experience on social media.

Material innovations have played a critical role in advancing CAD/CAM dentistry, but with the variety of options available, dentists may have difficulty deciding which materials are best for their patients and their practice. Knowing more about the available options as well as some of the other products required for single-visit dentistry can help make the decision easier, setting dentists up for success as they grow this area of their practice.

A look at CAD/CAM blocks

Manufacturers package same-day materials into preformed blocks (or discs) of material. The blocks are placed in the chairside dental mill to create both final and temporary restorations. Through this process, dentists can create customized veneers, inlays, onlays, crowns, abutments, and bridges while the patient waits.

CAD/CAM blocks have evolved over the years, coming in a variety of materials including composite, zirconia, lithium disilicate, acrylic primer, and ceramic. They’re available in various translucencies and shades to match dentin, enamel, and the remaining tooth structure, giving patients esthetic, natural-looking results.

Why do the materials come in blocks? One reason is that a block’s fine-particle-sized microstructure helps keep the material from being damaged during the milling process. This leads to improved mechanical properties, reduced polishing time, and increased wear resistance. And because the materials are manufactured in monolithic form, the risk of chipping is reduced.

CAD/CAM’s digital workflow allows dentists to seamlessly design and mill restorations that offer patients a more accurate fit. The advanced materials provide the durability and esthetics that patients both want and expect. And instead of waiting weeks for the lab to create a restoration, patients leave with it in place after one visit. Restorations created chairside also typically cost less than traditional metal-based restorations, another factor that makes patients more likely to accept treatment.

When choosing a block, dentists must ensure that it can be used for the intended indication and that they have the equipment and supplies they need, such as a dental oven, to turn the material into a beautiful, durable restoration. In addition, dentists must follow manufacturer instructions for protocols and preparation requirements.

The rise of resin cements

Dentists frequently use resin cements when placing restorations created chairside (and those made in a lab, for that matter). Investing in a reliable resin cement will help ensure restorations have the required durability, ensuring what you create in-house stands the test of time.

Resin cements are available in various compositions and come with different curing options, protocols, and working times. Designed to provide high-strength bonds, they’re frequently made from blends of methacrylates, dimethacrylates, and polymethacrylates. For best results, dentists should follow proper etching protocols. In addition, bonding agents sometimes are required.

Similar to CAD/CAM materials, resin cements have evolved over the years. For example, dentists can choose to invest in self-adhesive resin cements, which don’t require separate etchants and primers, to simplify workflows. These dual-cured cements are most often used with ceramic crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays. Fewer steps save clinicians and patients even more time, while still providing the bond strengths required for the best possible outcome. Many manufacturers offer these materials.

Choose the best material

Manufacturers continue to improve the restorative materials indicated for same-day restorations, giving dentists even more high-quality options. While it’s important to choose the best material for the case at hand, it’s also critical to invest in the right supporting products. Doing so will ensure dentists have an efficient workflow and can create beautiful, long-lasting restorations for their patients in a single visit.

Ask your Patterson Dental representative for recommendations on CAD/CAM blocks, resin cements, curing lights and all the best materials needed for successful integration of CAD/CAM technology at your dental practice.

The practice-building potential of single-visit dentistry

Getting patients to accept treatment is never easy. Many just don’t have time to make repeated visits to the dentist, while concerns about cost are another common barrier. Single-visit dentistry addresses both of those issues, leading to more patients saying yes to treatment and increased practice growth.

CAD/CAM dentistry allows dentists to create restorations chairside, so patients only need to schedule one visit instead of multiple. And dentists can offer restorations of all kinds at a lower cost because the associated lab fee is eliminated. So, patients can quickly get beautiful, durable restorations at a lower price point.

If you and your team members talk to your patients about single-visit dentistry and explain the benefits, they’ll be more likely to move forward with treatment – leading to significant practice growth. Here are other ways offering single-visit dentistry can help you build your practice:

  • Patients will be impressed with the technology and be open to accepting more treatment down the road.
  • Because they’re so happy with the experience, you’ll win their loyalty.
  • Patients will be more likely to share their positive experience with family and friends and on social media, leading to more new patients.
  • Your practice will stand out from others that don’t offer single-visit dentistry, attracting more new patients.
  • Because patients only come in for one visit, you have more time in your day to see other patients (boosting productivity) or to focus on other tasks that lead to growth (such as marketing).
  • Staying up to date on the latest technology so you can provide patients with the best care possible helps keep you passionate about what you do, further energizing you to explore other technologies that can boost efficiencies and free up more time in your day.

Offering single-visit dentistry will change your dental practice. You’ll be more efficient, and patients will appreciate that you’ve invested in technologies that improve their experience while also giving them exceptional outcomes. It’s a true practice builder that will set you apart from other dentists and keep patients coming back.

Selected references

Lively T. Same-day materials: What’s possible. Dental Products Report. April 29, 2021.

Lively T. How CAD/CAM materials differ from traditional indirect materials. Dental Products Report. May 18, 2020.

Knight R. The construction of the same-day dental practice. Dental Products Report. April 28, 2021.

Fasbinder DJ. Material matters: A review of chairside CAD/CAM restorative materials. J Cosmet Dent. 2018;34(3):64-74.

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A version of this article originally appeared in the June 2022 edition of OnTarget by Patterson Dental. View the latest edition and view current promotions at

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Patterson Dental

At Patterson Dental, we are committed to partnering with dental practices of all sizes to help oral health professionals practice extraordinary dentistry. We do this by living up to our promise of Trusted Expertise, Unrivaled Support every day.

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