Updated: January 2020

Our Corvallis dental team believes everyone can have a healthy, happy smile. However, even with regular brushing and flossing, this can’t always be achieved naturally. For example, some people are more prone to tooth decay than others, and stained teeth can be caused by genetics.

Whether it’s for functional or cosmetic reasons, sooner or later your teeth may need some restorative work to stay healthy and look great. When you do, the CEREC system is your best option.

Learn everything you need to know about CEREC and why this advanced restoration technology is the safest, most effective way to restore your teeth.

What is CEREC?

CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics” and is a computer-aided design and manufacturing system for dentists. CEREC combines a camera, computer, and milling instrument into one machine allowing tooth restorations to be created in the dentist office, all within a single visit. 

In a nutshell, the CEREC system:

  1. Is a significant tool in advanced dentistry.
  2. Eliminates both the long process of sending your tooth mold to an outside lab, forcing you to live with a temporary crown while you wait.
  3. Hundreds of studies show that the CEREC system is a safer and more effective way to restore your teeth than traditional methods

How Can CEREC Help You?

The CEREC system helps you fix damaged or unsightly teeth. Whether you’re looking for a more radiant smile or your teeth are decaying and need to be repaired, CEREC can help. 

There are 3 common treatments where CEREC helps:

1. Crowns

Think of a dental crown as a cap for your tooth. A crown covers your tooth, restoring its shape, size, and appearance. A crown may be necessary to strengthen a decaying or cracked tooth, restore a broken tooth, support a tooth with a large filling, or make a cosmetic change. Additionally, crowns are the last step of a root canal.

2. Veneers

A dental veneer is a thin, custom-made shell that covers the front surface of your tooth. Veneers are largely used for cosmetic reasons, such as improving the look of discolored, misaligned, or irregularly shaped teeth. Veneers can also help restore teeth that are chipped or broken.

3. Onlays

If your tooth is too damaged to support dental filling, but not quite damaged enough for a crown, a dental onlay might be the answer. A dental onlay, sometimes also referred to as a partial crown, covers one or more cusps of the entire biting surface of your tooth.

Traditionally, these 3 restorations are fabricated at a local lab, often taking weeks to create. But with CEREC, everything can be done in just one visit to your dentist’s office.

How CEREC Works

CEREC uses advanced computer-aided design technology and software to create perfect, natural-looking restorations in just a few minutes. Thanks to this technology, visiting your dentist for a tooth restoration is a simple and non-invasive procedure. 

Here’s how CEREC works in 7 steps:

  1. Your dentist prepares your tooth for the restoration.
  2. CEREC software takes a digital photo of the treatment area.
  3. CEREC technology converts the image into a 3D virtual model.
  4. With input from the dentist, the software creates the final restoration.
  5. The CEREC mill precisely carves a ceramic block into the exact shape and specifications of your restoration.
  6. The dentist reviews the restoration to ensure it fits properly in your mouth.
  7. The CEREC restoration is polished and bonded to your tooth.

This entire process takes no longer than 2 hours! 

CEREC vs. Traditional Restoration

CEREC is a marvel of engineering and technology. To truly appreciate its benefit, you need to understand the traditional process for dental restorations.

From preparing a tooth for a restoration, to placing the finished product, the traditional methods for receiving a dental restoration are time consuming, uncomfortable, and tedious. In fact, a traditional lab-made restoration can take several weeks, and sometimes months!

Take a look at the typical process for receiving a lab-made dental restoration:

  • An impression is made of the tooth using a gooey and uncomfortable mold.
  • The dentist fits your tooth with a temporary restoration while you wait for the final version. Temporaries are often weak, unsightly and can fall off.
  • The final mold of your tooth is sent to a lab where they will create the restoration. This will take several weeks.
  • Once the restoration is completed, you’ll visit the dentist for another appointment, get numb again, then finally get the restoration placed.

For a full comparison of CEREC restorations vs. traditional lab-made restorations, take a look at our handy comparison chart below. 


CEREC Traditional Restorations
Preparing the Tooth Requires minimal removal of healthy tooth structure. Generally requires a dentist to remove more healthy tooth structure.
Designing the Restoration A digital camera takes a picture of your tooth, uploading it to the CEREC system. No gooey molds needed! Requires taking a mold using a sticky goop. Many people find this process unpleasant or experience a gag reflex.
Applying a Temporary Not needed! A temporary that will last a few weeks will be glued to your tooth using a weak cement.
Creating the Restoration We use the CEREC software to model your restoration and create a permanent ceramic restoration in minutes. Your crown will be prepared in an off-site dental lab, a process that takes weeks.
Placing the Restoration No return visit needed! Permanent restoration will be created and placed in a single visit. You’ll schedule a follow-up appointment a few weeks down the road. You’ll have your mouth numbed, your temporary pried off, and the finished restoration placed.

Other Benefits of CEREC Restorations

Beyond the sheer time-saving benefits and zero discomfort that CEREC restorations provide, this technology is actually a better option for your overall dental health!

1. Better fit and comfort

CEREC uses advanced digital technology so the restoration will have a much better fit. This superior fit reduces small gaps between your teeth, making it difficult for bacteria to hide and gum disease and tooth decay to grow.

2. Metal-free

Another health benefit is that CEREC restorations are completely metal-free. This is a huge benefit since metal restorations can contain toxic metals that are potentially dangerous to your health.

3. Durable & beautiful

Not only will your CEREC restoration promote a healthy tooth structure and gumline, studies prove that CEREC restorations are durable, long-lasting, and look and feel like your real teeth.

Does Insurance Cover CEREC Restorations?

Most dental insurance plans cover a portion of dental work. Some plans will even cover the entire procedure. Since every insurance plan is slightly different, the only way to know for sure what is covered is to talk to your insurance company. 

At Timberhill Dental, we do not encourage our patients to allow their dental insurance coverage dictate their level of care. Our Treatment Coordinator is happy to help answer your insurance questions or coordinate a payment plan with you.

Any Disadvantages of CEREC?

There are no drawbacks to using the CEREC system for tooth restorations. Compared to traditional restorations, CEREC allows you to keep more of your tooth structure, is much more effective, and takes less time.

However, if you have multiple teeth needing restoration work, your dentist may recommend other dental treatment options like a fixed bridge or implant instead of a simple restoration.

Talk to Dr. Black about the CEREC System!

Whether you need a crown, onlay, veneer, or other tooth restoration treatment, don’t settle for anything less than the best. At Timberhill Dental, we’re proud to offer the CEREC system as the safest, most effective way to restore your teeth in a single visit.

If you have questions about CEREC, give us a call. Or, if you’ve been told you need a tooth restoration from another dentist in Corvallis, come get a free second opinion and learn more about how CEREC can help.