Computers soon to help design preps as well as crowns

November 3, 2011

CAD/CAM technology has made plenty of headway in the dental industry and computer-designed crowns are certainly nothing new, but now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are working on a system for computer design of preps as well.

CAD/CAM technology has made plenty of headway in the dental industry and computer-designed crowns are certainly nothing new, but now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are working on a system for computer design of preps as well. With support from Nobel Biocare, the research team is designing software that takes a digital scan of the tooth and uses mathematical guidelines to suggest the ideal prep that will preserve as much tooth structure as possible while providing optimal support for the crown.

The software goes beyond just suggesting the prep shape by outputting a 3D model of the prep design and even creating a 3D animation of the optimal bur path to help the clinician achieve the computer designed tooth prep. While this has not been paired with a CAM system for actual computer-guided intraoral milling, it is envisioned as a chairside aide that researchers say will save clinicians time and improve the fit and function of crowns.

Even more importantly, the software being developed is seen as a new educational tool to help teach prep design. Dental students can practice preparing a tooth and then have their results measured against the computer designed prep which can help them achieve the precision and skill they will need in real clinical practice.

Watch a video of a 3D prep design plan and read the full press release here.