In recent years, tooth whitening has seen a significant increase in popularity, quickly become one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed at cosmetic dentistry practices. When it comes to whitening services, options range from at-home whitening toothpastes and kits, to in-office whitening procedures, often consisting of powerful gels activated by specialized lasers or lights. While effective, at-home tooth whitening can take days to weeks to see results, while traditional in-office procedures often require repeat appointments to achieve a desired shade of white. If you want to achieve a brighter, whiter smile in just one visit, CEREC technology is now available to help patients refresh their appearance without undergoing any major procedures.


CEREC, short for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, is a method used by thousands of dentists worldwide to restore teeth that have been broken, decayed, or weakened. These restorations not only improve the color and overall look of damaged teeth, but also help to restore their natural strength. CEREC is performed using all-ceramic materials, which allows a full tooth restoration in a single appointment. The sophisticated CEREC system is able to design and create high-quality, metal-free dental restorations using 3D photography, coupled with CAD/CAM technology. Tooth impressions are not needed, as an optimal impression is taken of the prepared tooth. Instead of biting into a tray filled with impression material, the tooth is coated in a tasteless powder, and a camera is used to take a digital photograph of the coated tooth.


Over time, teeth can succumb to bacteria and plaque, often resulting in decay or cavities. Most dentists rely on fillings to “fill” in the area of decayed tooth structure, which can ultimately weaken the tooth. Most fillings on posterior teeth consist of metal, which can appear unsightly compared to the white tooth structure surrounding it. CEREC can be used to replace these dark fillings to restore the tooth’s natural beauty and strength. Crafted from metal-free, ceramic materials, CEREC crowns will not leak or crack over time, and blend effortlessly with your natural teeth. This state-of-the-art technology also eliminates the need for uncomfortable impressions, temporary restorations, and repeated visits to your dentist. Patients also enjoy the convenience of having their inlay, onlay, or crown designed and placed in just one appointment.


CEREC technology offers all-around more benefits to patients. It generally requires less time, fewer injections, and less drilling. The session begins with a routine examination of your teeth to determine the best preparation method. The dentist will then prepare your teeth by cleaning the affected tooth and removing any decay if present. Next, an optimal impression is taken of the prepared tooth. The CEREC machine is then used to design and create the new tooth filling, veneer, or dental crown. The advanced 3D system is comprised of an acquisition unit, 3D software, and a milling unit. The acquisition unit houses a computer and camera, and is needed to take a photograph of the prepared tooth and create a 3D model, in which the dentist will use to design the tooth restoration. The milling unit is the machine that actually creates the filling, veneer, or crown. During your session, your dentist will place a small block of tooth-colored ceramic into the milling unit, which will then create the restoration based on the dentist’s design. Approximately 10 to 20 minutes later, the tooth-colored, all-ceramic restoration is completed and ready to be bonded into place and polished for a flawless finish.


CEREC was developed in 1980 at the University of Zurich by W. Mörmann and M. Brandestini. The first applications on patients were carried out in 1985 by Sirona Dental Systems. To date, CEREC is the only dental method that offers single-visit restorations. Best of all, the technology offers more than just crowns. This revolutionary system can also be used to create new inlays and onlays, veneers, fillings, and for the replacement of old amalgam fillings. So how long does it take to whiten teeth? For individuals desiring whiter teeth, CEREC can deliver satisfying, long-lasting results in as little as one to two hours. Whether you’re looking to enhance your smile for medical or cosmetic purposes, CEREC is quick, reliable, and offers professional results without the hassles involved in traditional dentistry. For more information about this popular CAD/CAM system, contact your local CEREC dental provider.