New dental technology enhances Avon office
For most of us, going to the dentist is one of those necessary evils of life. Sort of like “you’re damned if you do, but really damned if you don’t.” But new technology in dentistry is making those feared dental visits a thing of the past. Dr. Johnathan Haerter of Avon is a local dentist helping to pave the way to gentler and more time efficient dentistry in the Vail Valley, while, he says, keeping costs within reason.In March, 2004, Dr. Haerter put himself on the cutting edge of dental technology by acquiring a state-of-the-art computer for his practice. The machine is called a CEREC 3D (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics) and it operates off the CAD/CAM system (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing). This new technology allows Haerter to repair a damaged tooth with an in-lay or fit a crown in about one hour. “It’s like having a dental lab in our office,” says Haerter.
The CEREC 3D replaces the age old procedure where patients endure an uncomfortable plaster impression fitting and then wait two or three weeks with a temporary crown before making a second visit to the dentist’s office for the permanent crown.”This is just a new way to apply old material,” Haerter says. “We still use ceramic porcelain and match it to the natural color of the tooth, but now we’re able to save more of the original, healthy tooth.” With the computer doing most of the technical work, his fittings are much more precise than if he was doing it manually, Haerter says. “We still fully customize the fitting of the restoration so it works well with opposing teeth,” he says. “But by eliminating the bulky material we used to work with, we now get a much more precise fit – up to 20 microns more accurate.” To begin the restoration, Haerter paints a reflective powder over the prepared tooth. Using a special camera, he then takes a picture of the tooth. This optical impression is transferred and displayed on a color computer screen where he then uses CAD technology to design the restoration. The CAM takes over and automatically creates the restoration to the surface of the old tooth. With the resin he uses and by matching the tooth color, it is very difficult to see where the corrections were made on the tooth, Haerter says. “It all blends together very well with the over-lay integrating into the restored tooth,” he says. Haerter has restored more than 120 teeth since he began using the machine. He says so far only one patient has needed a minor correction. “The main advantage to this procedure is the time saving benefit for both the patient and the dentist,” Haerter says. “It not only consolidates two visits into one, but it also eliminates possible lab problems.”When a dentist sends impressions to a dental lab there is always a risk that things could get lost or a crown comes back not fitting properly, he adds. “With the CEREC 3D and the ability to make the restorations here in our office, we have a lot more control,” Haerter says.
Upon first meeting Dr. Haerter one is instantly surprised at his youthful appearance and boyish enthusiasm for what he does. But in a few minutes it’s easy to see why this young professional has such a thriving dental practice and loyal patients. With his easy going Mid-West warmth, he puts people at ease right away. Haerter and his wife Bethany, a registered dental hygienist, moved to the Vail area four years ago from Minnesota, where Dr. Haerter was fresh out of dental school. He started his practice in Avon and has been working hard ever since, he says. With his broad smile – enhanced by his own braced teeth, which, he says, came after years of an improper bite – he knows what it’s like to be the patient in the chair.
“People are very busy in this valley and time is important, and time is money,” he says. “With this new technology I can replace silver fillings with natural looking ceramic fillings and fit veneers or crowns in a single office visit and have people on their way.” And Dr. Haerter is quick to point out that although this new procedure is time-saving it is no more expensive than the usual method of repairing teeth. “I’m saving money by not having to pay a lab so I’ve been able to keep my prices competitive with other dentists in the valley,” he says. When asked about the safety and longevity of this new procedure, Haerter says he’s put hours into continuing medical education courses and intensive training to learn everything there is to know about the CERAC 3D approach. “I literally spend over 200 hours a year in advanced training classes and continuing education and I have complete confidence in this new technology and how it will enhance the future of dentistry,” he says. Dr. Haerter, DDS is located at 100 W. Beaver Creek Blvd., suite 232 in the Avon Center.Vail Colorado