CEREC vs. Lab for Dental Crown

a friend said I shouldn't go to my dentist for a crown. she said the best way to go about crowns is to find a dentist who has a CEREC machine where the ceramic crown is made the same day you get it inserted. do all dentists think that crowns made by CEREC are just as good if not better then lab-made crowns? Does CEREC usually cost the same or more?

Doctor Answers 11

CEREC vs lab fabricated full crowns

CEREC crowns are crowns that are designed with the aid of a computer.  They can be designed in the dental office or a dental lab.  For a posterior tooth the doesn't require the highest level of esthetics to match the neighboring teeth as long as the person designing the crown is skillful, it does not matter whether it's done in office or in a lab.  For a tooth in which matching esthetics is at a very high level (e.g. matching a single front tooth) I believe the assistance of a master ceramist to match the nuances of the patient's neighboring teeth is necessary.

Cerac vs Lab

Your friend is not accurate when they say Cerac crowns are better.  It all depends on the person doing the crown.  Cerac crowns can be done well.  Historically these type of crowns have not had a very good track record often times not fitting very well.  But many lab made crowns have also been done poorly.  A far more important question is whether or not your dentist does high quality restorations no matter how they are produced.  A good way to find a good dentist is to call local dental labs and ask them who they see.  They know the type of work the local dentists do.  Best of luck to you.  

Thomas Roberts, DDS
Seattle Dentist

Cerec vs. Lab is not the right question.

It depends what you want.  If your priority is convenience then the one-day Cerec  crown is probably the best choice.  At least in the short term.

If you value esthetics and longevity of the crown, then Cerec might not be your best choice. 

The reason is that one of the major causes of crown failure over time is the gap between the crown and the tooth,  what dentists call the margin.  The gap is small and measured in microns (0.00039 inches).  Although this is small, it is important to note that bacteria are smaller.  Eventually larger margins get infected or ‘leak’.

It has been shown that crowns made from digital impressions (which is what Cerec employs) have smaller gaps than traditional lab made metal ones.  But it has also been shown that crowns made at the lab from digital impressions have even smaller margins.  Plus, lab processed crowns look so much better than in-office Cerec crowns.

In my opinion the quality goes from better to worse in the following order:

1)      Digital impression, lab processed;   2)In-office CAD/CAM (Cerec);  3)Traditional impression, traditional crown. (Please remember that there are many variables not accounted for in this discussion)

Attached is an abstract about the margin gap size of various crowns.

Hope this helps.


Steve Alper, DMD
New York Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Things to consider - Lab vs CEREC crowns

I have not done many CEREC crowns, but there are limitations with them. The top reasons I would chose a lab fabricated crown have to do mostly with aesthetics. If the tooth is in the front, and it is very critical that it matches, there is no better way to go than with a ceramist that can build in the visual details into their crowns. A skilled dentist can sometimes stain the crown's surface to match closely, so it can still be matched.

In the hands of a skilled and attentive dentist, the CEREC tool can perform just as well, and you can expect a long lasting, quality restoration. Be sure to ask for an emax crown material for back teeth since that will be the strongest.

M. Andrew Atwood, DDS
Bellevue Dentist
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews


Some LABS use the CEREC machines to make their crowns. So, that means they must feel they are as good as handmade (baked porcelain) crowns.

The price is usually the same. It's a convenience for the patients to get the crowns in one day. The dentists that don't want to invest in the time or technology for CEREC will tell you the crowns aren't as good. If you break a crown off on a Friday afternoon and go to the dentist and leave with a beautiful natural looking permanent crown that night, you will agree CEREC crowns are amazing.

As with any procedure, the skill of the operator plays an important role in what it looks like. Not all lab crowns are perfect or esthetic.

Randall LaFrom, DDS
San Jose Dentist

Cerec and Ceramist made crowns

Cerec is one brand of a computer generated and milled restoration. The fees are usually the same. You have asked a question discussed often in the dental profession but rarely by the public. The public often assumes all crowns are the same like a commodity. Most dentists lack the artistic skill, years of experience staining and refining, and understanding of materials than that of a skilled Ceramist. When I say "most" that is not "all". Some dentists have a very high level of skill. 

I, personally, would not even consider using a Ceramist with less than 20 years experience. If your goal is a natural, invisible crown - go with the lab made. If your goal is fewer appointments and a life like look is not important, consider the Cerec crown. 

Mickey Bernstein, DDS
Memphis Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Cerec is only about convenience

Cerec is not superior to a dental lab, and in some dentists hands they can be inferior.  Lab worked crowns are by what all materials will be compared, as they are the standard.  Cerec dentists are NOT all the same, it is just a tool.  Even though all artists use brushes and canvas, they are not all equal.  If you find a cerec dentist that takes their time and is skilled, you are fine and likely can get it done in a single visit.  It will be a much LONGER visit, but only one.

I have a cerec and use it where indicated.  Often when patients hear the logistics of it, opt for two visits, since each one is no more than 30 minutes.  A well made cerec (stained, glazed and crystalized in an oven) will require well over two hours for the single visit.

Lance Timmerman, DMD, MAGD
Seattle Dentist
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Cerec vs lab

Cerec crowns are not necessarily better. They are often not strong enough if you clench and grind your teeth.

They are more convienant if started and finished in one day but quality can be missed if that is the goal.

These crowns/partial crowns are also more expensive since there is an added value in a one visit crown. The cerec machine is expensive and dentists need to recoup that money. 

Overall, not worth it. 

Maryam Talaie, DDS
Culver City Dentist

Theyre equally good in the back of the mouth

Cerec crowns offer the convenience of a single visit completion of your crown preparation and delivery. Unlike a lab made crown, a Cerec crown is milled from a rectangular block, which usually means less esthetic control when trying to match exisiting teeth in the front of the mouth. 

If youre looking for convience, Cerec is tha way to go, but for a more esthetic crown that matches the other teeth, a cosmetic lab ceramist can create wonders!!

Hisham Kaloti, DDS
Mississauga Dentist
4.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

CEREC vs. Lab Crown

As a CEREC user for the past 10 years. I can easily say that a well done CEREC crown will equal the quality and appearance of a well done lab fabricated crown.  The biggest difference that I notice is the turnaround time for the crown to be placed on the tooth.  CEREC has always marketed itself as a single visit procedure, but often times it is easier to utilize two short appointments instead of one very long appointment.  The major advantage of the CEREC procedure is that you can control how soon the second visit will be to minimize the time the patient needs to wear a temporary crown.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.