What Is CEREC? Pros, Cons, Procedure & Costs

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. What Is CEREC?
  2. Performance & Usage of CEREC
  3. Pros & Cons of Using CEREC
  4. Finding CEREC Treatment
  5. References

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic, which is a new procedure involving computer software, milling or grinding technology, and fast dental restoration techniques.

Your dentist can take high-quality scans and molds of a tooth that needs replacement. They’ll then send this information to a computer software program to create a replacement tooth out of porcelain.

It is an expensive and rare procedure, but it’s gaining popularity. Potential prices range from $500 to $1,500 per tooth, depending on several factors. One report of CEREC crowns found that the average cost was $1,050 per tooth.

What Is CEREC?

CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic) is an approach to creating dental restorations in a dentist’s office, which can help to repair your teeth after damage or decay. Your dentist may use a specific system or type of equipment to perform this procedure.

Some dentists use a computer program called a CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), or CAD/CAM, to take measurements of your teeth and jaw from impressions that they make. These digital impressions can then be passed to a unit that fabricates a ceramic restoration to improve your smile.

How Is CEREC Used & Performed?

The Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care notes that CEREC can help fabricate these:

  • Veneers

  • Crowns

  • Dental implants

  • Inlays or overlays

  • Partial or full bridges

  • Other orthodontic appliances

There are three basic steps to CEREC.

  1. Your dentist will numb the tooth and prepare it by cleaning it. They will then get an impression of your mouth using high-definition (HD) intra-oral video scanners and design software.

  2. They will use the CAD/CAM program to analyze the impression of your mouth and create a treatment plan to restore your smile.

  3. These design specifications will be sent to equipment that can grind or mill material into the form of dental restoration you need.

Once it is adjusted and finished, it will be placed in your mouth. This treatment can often be completed with one trip to your dentist. For people who need immediate help, who have dental phobia, or who have concerns about wearing poorly fitting temporary crowns, this is an exceptional procedure that can improve their smile.

Although your CEREC crown can feel foreign in your mouth, the procedure is restoring the shape of your mouth; typically, patients feel like their crown(s) look and work as if they are a natural tooth.

What Are the Benefits & Downsides of Using CEREC?



More accurate in making

dental restorations

like crows and bridges

More expensive than other

veneers, crowns, or bridges

More precise measurements

Limited materials available

Less likely to experience pain,

stress, or damage from poor

fitting bridge or crown

Limited procedure availability

since it is so new,

few dentist do it

Fewer visits to dentist

Less invasive

More like original teeth

Improved lifespan of the implant

Keeps nearby teeth healthy

CEREC is more accurate than older approaches to making dental restorations, especially crowns or bridges. Previous approaches include making multiple molds with uncomfortable material. This, in turn, requires numerous visits to your dentist’s office, having localized numbing agents used, and even tolerating uncomfortable temporary crowns which may, if used too long, lead to damage to the gums.

Using computer software and high-accuracy scanners, dentists can now get much more precise measurements with less invasive procedures and fewer visits. This reduces stress, disruptions to your day, and even your financial investment in the treatment. You are also less likely to experience pain, stress, or damage from a poorly fitting temporary crown or bridge, as you will not need to wear these very long or even at all.

The resulting dental devices fit better the first time they are implanted, and they are more like your original teeth. They fit better into your mouth the first time, which can reduce the strain caused on the implant, improve its lifespan in your mouth, and keep your nearby teeth healthy.

There are some potential downsides to CEREC. For example, only certain materials are suitable for the fabrication process, and your dental restoration may benefit from a type of material that is not available. The process is also expensive, requiring new types of equipment and special training for dental staff who will use the devices. Your insurance may not cover this increased cost, so you may pay out of pocket for this procedure.

Since it is a new procedure, CEREC may not be available with your current dentist. Your dentist could refer you to a specialist who is trained in the technology, which can add to the overall cost. You may only find dentists who are not in network with your dental insurance.

CEREC: Finding This Treatment Might Take Time

CEREC can be more expensive than other types of veneers, crowns, or bridges, but the saved time and stress can make up for the added expense to many people. Your dental insurance may cover some of the cost, although your dentist’s experience and your home city or state can increase the cost.

Potential prices range from $500 to $1,500 per tooth, depending on several factors. One report of CEREC crowns found that the average cost was $1,050 per tooth. This is the cost associated with only some molars, and it may not be suitable for incisors or other teeth. These are formed from solid porcelain, which is milled down in your dentist’s office.

CEREC is a relatively new technology, and medical researchers note that the procedure would benefit from being able to use a wider range of materials, which might reduce cost and increase durability. However, people who have received CEREC treatment and dental restorations are typically happy with their smile, and the results can last for a long time.

If you want to pursue CEREC to restore the health and appearance of one of your teeth, talk to your dentist about this option. You may be better suited to other types of veneer, crown, or bridge materials, including ceramic-and-metal or full metal. These can be less costly but more durable, but they may not look as much like real teeth.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.