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    The future of indirect composite restorations

    How technology shaped—and is shaping—the world of indirect composite restorations.

    As with most things in dentistry today, technology improves outcomes on many fronts. From 3D imaging at the clinician’s office to CAD/CAM at the dental lab, advances are all around—they are even evident in indirect composite restorations.

    Thanks to sophisticated formulations, patients, doctors and labs enjoy higher-quality, easier-to-use restorations.

    Better composite classes

    Composite restorations can be traced back to the 1960s. When the first materials were introduced, they contained large-sized particles. Over the years, the formulations and abilities of composites have improved—and continue to evolve—offering even better outcomes for patients.

    Read more: Five things you need to know about composites

    “We need better and better materials to work with,” Jim Collis, owner of Collis Prosthodontic Lab in Mount Prospect, Illinois, says. “Technology is definitely helping us achieve the goal of making better materials.”

    In recent years, manufacturers have addressed those concerns, bringing new classes of composites to the marketplace.

    “One of the most significant advances has been the development of new classes of composite materials for use in chairside CAD/CAM systems which contain predominately inorganic refractory compounds, such as glass and ceramic fillers,” Geoffrey P. Morris, PE, Scientific Affairs Manager at 3M Oral Care says. “These materials, such as 3M’s Lava Ultimate CAD/CAM Restorative, contain 80 percent by weight inorganic fillers and have demonstrated clinical performance as an adhesively bonded onlay, at three-year recall, equivalent to leucite-reinforced glass-ceramics.”

    Related article: Why is this type of dental technology so underappreaciated? 

    Esthetics

    Patients want their restorations to be just as good as real teeth—from the standpoints of both form and function.

    “Patients have high esthetic expectations,” Collis says. “They want to appear as natural as possible. Some of these materials that are coming out now can help us achieve the goals of the patient when they go the doctor.”

    The technology behind composites improves over older, traditional materials.

    “The incisal translucency is incredibly important,” Collis says. “You can achieve that with ceramics, for sure, but the problem with ceramics is if something cracks in the mouth it is really hard to repair, chairside.

    Related article: The top 10 dental discoveries of 2016

    “I’ve been using Shofu’s Ceramage for quite a while now,” he continues. “It is a zirconia-silicate microceramic that exhibits virtually the same light transmissions as a natural tooth. It maintains a remarkable translucency. In this day and age everybody wants Hollywood teeth and wants to look completely natural and beautiful, and I think the materials need to be able to achieve that.”

    Up next: More of the enhanced features in modern technologies

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...

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