Woman wearing a plastic crown and smirking

Is a CEREC® Crown Inferior to One Made in a Lab?

Once you’ve been told you need a dental crown you might find yourself researching to understand everything about them. Which means, it’s likely that you’ll face the conundrum of CEREC crowns vs lab crowns.

It’s important to understand that crowns, both types, are a form of restorative dentistry and the ultimate goal of restorative dentistry is to get your teeth back to their natural state (free of damage and decay).

If decay is caught early enough then you might only need a filling. But when the decay & resulting damage is more extensive a larger restoration like an onlay or a crown might be necessary.

The main difference between onlays and crowns is that a crown fits over the whole tooth. They are used to fortify a tooth that’s been plagued by severe decay or damage and are often the crowning glory (ha) after a root canal treatment or a dental implant.

So, when a crown is indeed needed it’s logical that you want to make sure that you’re getting something that is going to look good, feel good, and last.

While some patients are tempted to buy into the myth that CEREC crowns are inferior to lab made crowns, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And it’s time to debunk that misconception!

CEREC Crowns vs. Lab Crowns

You might not know it, but both off-site labs and CEREC restorations have a lot of similarities.

The Same Materials are Used

The two most common materials used for crowns are E-Max and zirconia. And both labs and CEREC offices use the same kinds of materials when crafting dental crowns.

Using CEREC’s state-of-the-art CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing) technology, our dentist, Dr. James Powell can create your crown from E-Max porcelain.

And while the idea of porcelain in your mouth may conjure images of a fragile figurine lying shattered in pieces on the floor, an E-Max restoration is actually made of an extra strong, long-lasting material and is even considered a breakthrough when it comes to dental crown technology.

E-Max is made from a durable, aesthetically-pleasing top-grade material and is made from a single block of lithium disilicate ceramic. It’s known for its strength and aesthetic qualities.

It blends seamlessly with your natural teeth and is less likely to chip when compared to zirconia. With good home-care and regular preventative visits to our office, you can expect your E-Max restorations to last 15 years and even beyond.

Check out these case studies showing how long-lasting E-Max porcelain restorations are:

Both Offsite Labs & CEREC Offices Use Digital Scans, But Only CEREC Uses a Direct Scan

When it comes to making dental impressions for a restoration, almost all labs have scanners that convert the impression models into a digital form to design and mill the final restoration.

So you can see that even when we use CAD/CAM technology to create your crown in our lab, we’re using similar methods that outside labs use.

However, studies show that CEREC crowns actually have significantly lower deviations regarding their similarity to original tooth morphology, the number of occlusal contacts, occlusal adjustment time, and subjective aesthetic perception.

Some of this has to do with the accuracy of the impression model itself.

When an impression is taken it is influenced by the quality of the material used, the conditions in the mouth (i.e. saliva levels) when taking the impression, the skill level of the assistant taking the impression, the position of the tooth in the arch, and even the standard tray used, which may not fit the patient’s mouth accurately.

Then that impression is used to create a model which is scanned at an outside lab.

Since they don’t have the patient there in the chair, there’s a little bit of guesswork happening. Which means that a lab might have areas on the restoration which are too thin making it prone to cracks and fractures.

Still, even under the best conditions, a physical impression is just not as accurate as a direct three-dimensional scan of the mouth in the computer. CEREC technology allows us to scan the impression within a tenth of a millimeter in accuracy!

Further, if there’s anything about the restoration that might compromise the integrity of the restoration (like thin areas), then the dentist can make the necessary corrections & re-mill the restoration right then and there!

Comparing the Benefits of CEREC vs. Lab Crowns

Obviously, since you’ve read this far you now understand that both CEREC and lab crowns can give you acceptable results.

And there are plenty of dentists who utilize both! Like most things it comes down to the skill & knowledge of the dentist and their preference.

Lab crowns are a great option for front teeth when the person’s number one goal is cosmetic dentistry; since handcrafted lab restorations can capture the fine details that front teeth aesthetics require.

CEREC restorations are unlike typical dental crowns when it comes to comfort, convenience, and even longevity. So CEREC does have some added benefits when it comes to the patient experience:

  • There’s no gunky impressions — if just the thought of that colored goop makes you want to gag, then CEREC is a great option because that isn’t needed or used.
  • Get your teeth fixed in a single-visit — if time is of the essence we hear you! You can have your tooth completely finished in just one visit. There’s no 2-week wait and second visit like there is with lab crowns.
  • There’s no temporary — if you’ve ever had a temporary before then you might already know that they can be uncomfortable, not to mention inconvenient if they just don’t want to stay on. But that’s not a concern with CEREC because a temporary isn’t necessary.
  • There’s no gray line — many labs use porcelain fused to metal which can leave a gray line around the bottom of the tooth, not to mention the fact that metal has the tendency to expand and contract (which causes damage). But you won’t have to worry about that with CEREC. They are fully porcelain and match your natural tooth color very well.

Getting your tooth restored can be a super easy and comfortable process for you when you find yourself an office using CEREC. That’s exactly what we use at our dental office in Palmdale, CA because same-day restorations save our patients an extra trip to the dentist and a lot of their time!

We hope this has helped debunk the myth that CEREC crowns are inferior to their lab created counterparts. For more information about our same-day dental crowns or other restorative treatments in Palmdale, California, please call us at (661) 349-7725. We are also happy to schedule an appointment for you with our exceptional dentist, Dr. Powell. You can even reserve your reservation online!

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