How a Robot Fixed my Tooth in New Rochelle

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How a Robot Fixed my Tooth in New Rochelle

October 24, 2010 - 11:29

I had a “What’s Next” moment last Friday in New Rochelle, and In a good way. Technology crops up in the most unexpected places. I watched a robotic machine take a porcelain cube and turn it into a tooth in six minutes in Dr. Perler’s New Rochelle dental office.

[Dr. Perler in photo above with Cerec CAD/CAM technology tracing area of tooth needing replacement]

At some point or another we all find ourselves in the dentist chair needing fillings replaced. My filling was nine years old and gave way on vacation. It was not that long ago when a dental crown took multiple visits to the dentist and repeat lab work with delays and discomfort. For this inlay, my dentist scheduled a single 1 hour 15 minute appointment for me.

The dentist’s Cerec technology allows him to take a three dimensional picture of your tooth and recreate the tooth exactly, right in front of your eyes, in six minutes, out of high compression, strong and durable porcelain to six microns of accuracy, with a perfect color match.

These are the porcelain blocks in various colors

Using a digital 3D photo of my tooth, in minutes Dr. Perler used CAD/CAM technology to 3D trace the area that needed filling. Then with a few clicks he sent his design of a perfect digital impression to a milling machine. You are allowed to watch the dental assistant operate the milling machine. She attaches the small rectangular cube of porcelain onto a small platform. Then she closes the curved glass window and hits a button.

This is the milling machine with the glass door open.

This is the porcelain cube before being carved by the high powered streams of water.

I watched as the machine calibrated, rotated, and shot water. It carved away at the porcelain and made the perfect puzzle piece tooth that fit into the space on my molar the first time. In the past, dentists only used composite fillings or porcelain restorations which were made in the dental laboratory by building up porcelain incrementally to achieve a good fit over two or more visits. Before that they used only silver fillings. With this technology, the dentist starts with very strong block of porcelain that is carved away. Thankfully, most of the work is done outside the patient’s mouth.

In a worst case dental scenario, say someone loses teeth in an accident, these machines (camera, CAD/CAM program, and miller) can figure out the shape of the lost teeth based on the bite of the teeth around it.

This technology is expensive, but makes the process more accurate, quicker and less invasive. Dr. Perler said “It also is less costly for the patient than dental lab fabricated porcelain restorations because everything is completed in one visit.” Dr. Perler only uses it when a significant portion of the surface area (50%) of the tooth or part of the tooth needs repair. Only 5-7% of the dentists in the United States use this technology. This is one of the few of these machines in southern Westchester and may be the only one in New Rochelle.

Dr. Perler’s office is located at 175 Memorial Highway, (914) 636-8082. He also offers weekend and some evening hours. Dr. Perler has several dental patents and offers the latest in dental technology.

The company that makes these products has been around for more than 25 years and is perhaps better known for their CAD x-ray technology including 3-D cone beam scanners. More info on this technology is available on the Cerec website here.

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