If one of your teeth is damaged, your dentist may recommend a dental crown to address the situation.

A crown is a small, tooth-shaped cap that fits over your tooth. It can hide a discolored or misshapen tooth or even a tooth implant.

A crown can also protect or restore a broken, worn-down, or damaged tooth. A crown can hold a dental bridge in place, too.

You have options when it comes to choosing the type of crown you receive.

Crowns can be made from a variety of different materials, including:

  • metal
  • resin
  • ceramic
  • porcelain
  • a combination of porcelain and metal that’s often called porcelain-fused-to-metal

A popular choice is the CEREC crown, which is often made out of a very strong ceramic and is designed, created, and installed using computer-assisted technology.

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. You typically get one of these crowns as part of a same-day procedure that will get you in and out of the dentist’s chair in one afternoon.

Why choose a CEREC crown? Consider these advantages.

Same-day procedure

Rather than wait as long as 2 weeks for your new crown, you can walk into a dentist’s office and walk out with your new CEREC crown the same day.

The dentist will use computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) to capture digital images of your tooth and jaw, design a crown, and then create that crown for installation — all right there in the office.

Appearance of the crown

Your friends might not ever realize that your tooth has a crown. Because it lacks a metal core, a CEREC crown tends to look more natural and more closely resemble the surrounding teeth.

Research suggests the aesthetic appearance benefits from not having a dark core to interrupt the reflection of light.


Research suggests that you can get a reliable restoration of your tooth with a crown installed using the CEREC system.

As other research notes, these types of crowns tend to be sturdy and resist abrasion, making them more likely to last.

That’s good news since the last thing you want to do is head back to your dentist’s office to get your new crown repaired.

While there are numerous advantages to choosing the CEREC crown procedure, there are also some drawbacks. Perhaps the biggest drawbacks are cost and availability.

Not every dental office offers CEREC procedures, and not all dentists have extensive training in using the technology. Additionally, the cost of CEREC crowns tends to be a little higher than other types of crowns.

In some cases, dental veneers are an acceptable alternative to crowns.

Unlike crowns, veneers are thin shells that only cover the front of the teeth, so they may not be appropriate for teeth that are broken or damaged. They are typically made of porcelain or a resin composite.

A dentist can also use the computer-assisted design (CAD) tools that are part of the CEREC process to create ceramic veneers for your teeth.

You should be able to expect long-lasting results, as one study found a very high restoration survival rate of porcelain laminate veneers among people 9 years after undergoing the procedure.

As with any dental procedure, your costs will vary.

The cost can vary based on:

  • type of dental insurance you have
  • procedures covered by your dental insurance
  • your dentist’s experience level
  • region of the country in which you live

Some dental insurance plans may cover the cost of a crown, while others may only pay for part of the cost. It may depend on if your dental insurance plan deems the crown medically necessary or just for cosmetic purposes.

Some dentists charge between $500 and $1,500 per tooth for a CEREC crown. If your insurance doesn’t cover the cost, or your out-of-pocket cost is too high, talk to your dentist. You might be eligible for a payment plan.

Of course, CEREC crowns are not your only option. You can get crowns made from a variety of other materials, including:

  • zirconia
  • porcelain
  • ceramic
  • metal, such as gold
  • composite resin
  • combination of materials

If you don’t go the CEREC route, however, you won’t be able to get your new crown in a single visit. Crowns typically require that you visit your dentist at least twice.

During the first visit, your dentist will prepare the tooth that needs a crown and take an impression to send to the dental laboratory.

You’ll receive a temporary crown. Then you’ll return for a second visit to get your permanent crown installed.

If you’ve ever seen a 3-D printer at work, you can grasp the way this process will unfold:

  1. Open wide for the camera. Your dentist will take digital pictures of the tooth that needs a crown.
  2. The model is created. Your dentist will use CAD/CAM technology to take those digital images and create a digital model of your tooth.
  3. The machine takes the model and creates, or mills, a 3-D tooth out of ceramic. This process only takes about 15 minutes.
  4. Your dentist polishes the new crown and fits it in place inside your mouth.
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CEREC dental crown procedure

CEREC crowns may be a good option for you if you’re looking for a durable, natural-looking crown, and you don’t want to wait for a couple of weeks to get it.

Talk to a dentist about your options and discuss whether this method is available for you and if it fits into your budget.