Mechanical Properties Of CAD/CAM Blocks: A Critical Examination

Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology is one of the greatest developments modern dentistry has invited. There’s one critical aspect that underpins the success and longevity of CAD/CAM dental restorations. This is the mechanical properties of the CAD/CAM blocks used in the process.

Are you interested in learning more about CAD/CAM blocks? Read on to gain information on their mechanical characteristics – including fracture toughness, flexural strength, and wear resistance. Furthermore, you may also explore their profound relevance in dental restorations.

The Dental CAD/CAM Advantage

The traditional methods of creating dental restorations involved manual processes that often resulted in restorations with variable quality and longevity.

CAD/CAM technology, in contrast, offers a highly precise and efficient way to design and manufacture dental prosthetics. These include crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays. Central to this process are the traditional and composite cad cam blocks, which serve as the raw material for these restorations.

Fracture Toughness: The Measure of Resilience

Fracture toughness is a critical mechanical property when it comes to evaluating the reliability and longevity of dental restorations. In essence, it quantifies a material’s ability to resist crack propagation and fracture.

Dental restorations are constantly subjected to various stresses, including masticatory forces, thermal changes, and occlusal loading. As a result, they must possess the necessary fracture toughness to endure these challenges.

CAD/CAM blocks are available in various materials, each with its own fracture toughness. Zirconia-based CAD/CAM blocks, for example, are known for their exceptional fracture toughness, making them a preferred choice for posterior crowns and bridges. They can withstand the rigors of the oral environment, providing patients with durable and long-lasting restorations.

However, it’s important to note that not all CAD/CAM blocks offer the same fracture toughness.

Therefore, material selection is a crucial consideration in CAD/CAM dentistry. Understanding the patient’s specific needs and the location of the restoration is pivotal in making the right material choice.

Flexural Strength: The Backbone of Durability

Flexural strength measures a material’s ability to withstand bending without breaking. In dental restorations, this property is pivotal, as it determines how well a restoration can resist the forces exerted during mastication and other oral activities.

Dental CAD/CAM blocks with high flexural strength are particularly valuable in creating restorations for areas of the mouth where strong biting forces are encountered, such as molars. Materials like lithium disilicate and zirconia demonstrate impressive flexural strength, rendering them as popular choices for dental crowns and bridges.

The precise fit and high flexural strength of CAD/CAM restorations are essential for their long-term success. They not only enhance patient comfort but also reduce the risk of chipping or fracturing under occlusal loads.

Wear Resistance: Prolonging Restoration Longevity

Wear resistance is another critical mechanical property of CAD/CAM blocks, as it dictates how well a dental restoration can endure the abrasive wear that occurs during chewing and other oral activities. When choosing materials for CAD/CAM restorations, clinicians need to consider the wear resistance to ensure the restoration maintains its structural integrity and aesthetics over time.

Certain materials in non composite CAD/CAM blocks, like zirconia, exhibit excellent wear resistance. Zirconia is a polycrystalline material with a high degree of hardness, making it exceptionally resistant to abrasion.

This property is particularly important in situations where the restoration comes into contact with natural teeth. This is since differential wear between the restoration and the opposing tooth can lead to occlusal discrepancies and compromise esthetics.

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Relevance in Dental Restorations

Understanding the mechanical properties of CAD/CAM blocks is of paramount importance in the field of dental restorations.

Dental professionals must select the most appropriate CAD/CAM block material for each patient’s specific needs. This decision takes into account factors like the location of the restoration, the patient’s bite force, and the aesthetic requirements.

Posterior Restorations

For posterior restorations, where the occlusal forces are more significant, materials with high fracture toughness and flexural strength are preferred.

Zirconia-based dental CAD/CAM blocks are often the material of choice in these situations. Their exceptional strength and durability make them an ideal option for crowns and bridges in the posterior region.

Anterior Restorations

Anterior restorations, on the other hand, require a strong focus on esthetics in addition to mechanical properties.

Materials like lithium disilicate are known for their high flexural strength and excellent translucency, making them suitable for anterior crowns, veneers, and inlays. These materials ensure that the restoration seamlessly blends with the patient’s natural teeth while still providing the necessary strength.

Partial and Full Coverage Restorations

Partial and full-coverage restorations, such as crowns and bridges, benefit from CAD/CAM dentistry with a balanced combination of mechanical properties. These restorations must withstand occlusal forces and provide optimal esthetics.

Materials like lithium disilicate and hybrid ceramics offer a favorable balance between strength and aesthetics, making them suitable for various clinical scenarios.

Longevity and Patient Satisfaction

The mechanical properties of traditional and composite CAD/CAM blocks have a direct impact on the longevity and patient satisfaction with dental restorations. Restorations that possess the appropriate fracture toughness, flexural strength, and wear resistance are more likely to withstand the rigors of the oral environment and provide patients with durable solutions that last for many years.

Moreover, CAD/CAM technology’s precision in creating restorations with optimal fit and occlusal harmony reduces the need for adjustments, contributing to the patient’s comfort and satisfaction.

The Role of CAD/CAM Blocks in Minimally Invasive Dentistry

The importance of CAD/CAM blocks extends beyond their mechanical properties. They are instrumental in advancing the principles of minimally invasive dentistry. Minimally invasive dentistry aims to conserve tooth structure and promote the longevity of restorations while delivering optimal patient outcomes.

CAD/CAM technology allows for the creation of highly precise restorations that require minimal tooth reduction. This approach not only maintains the structural integrity of the tooth but also reduces the risk of pulpal complications.

Furthermore, CAD/CAM blocks, with their exceptional mechanical properties, enable the creation of thinner and more conservative restorations. For example, ultra-thin veneers and inlays can be designed and milled with high accuracy, preserving natural tooth structure and promoting long-term oral health.


The mechanical properties of dental CAD/CAM are crucial for successful dental restorations, impacting their resilience, durability, and esthetics. Selecting the right CAD/CAM block material is essential to match the specific clinical needs, whether for a posterior crown, anterior veneer, or partial coverage restoration.

A deep understanding of fracture toughness, flexural strength, and wear resistance empowers dental professionals to provide patients with natural-looking, functional, and durable restorations that withstand the oral environment’s demands. The precision and efficiency of CAD/CAM dentistry, combined with the judicious choice of CAD/CAM block materials, promote minimally invasive dentistry, preserving tooth structure while elevating patient care.

Ultimately, CAD/CAM blocks and their mechanical properties are pivotal in modern dentistry’s evolution, offering a pathway to enduring, esthetic, and minimally invasive dental restorations that cater to each patient’s unique needs.

To explore the dental solutions offered by GC America and leverage the full potential of CAD/CAM technology in modern dentistry, visit the website here.

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