WERNER MÖRMANN'S CEREC STORY

EMERGENCE OF THE CEREC  METHOD

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE PIONEER

BY

WERNER H. MÖRMANN 

Introduction

Here I am telling my personal story of how, as a dentist, I came up with the idea of treating carious tooth damage with computer made ceramic inlays instead of mercury containing amalgam. The modern amalgam, introduced in 1820, was fought from the start because of its potentially toxic mercury content. By the end of the 1970s, analysis devices were able to detect tiny amounts of mercury in body fluids and in the air. In 1979 this heated up the public discussion of the possible damage to health caused by amalgam with particular vehemence. Dentistry came under strong pressure to offer alternative treatments for decayed teeth. I recognized the urgency of this problem and felt called upon to find a solution. It was the time when Apple introduced the home computer in 1977 and IBM introduced the personal computer in 1981. The emerging computer technology for personal use pushed the fast computerized manufacture of ceramic dental fillings into the realm of possibility. Marco Brandestini and I then worked for five years from 1980 until, in September 1985, we had developed a digital intraoral 3D scanner and a computer controlled device for CAD design and CAM production of ceramic inlays. Additionally we developed the treatment and material technology. We named this method `CEREC`, an acronym from CERamic REConstruction, and founded the Brains company in Zurich in November 1985 to produce these devices and bring them to market. In 1986 we found a strong industrial partner in the German company Siemens. The technical basic elements of our method, the 3D scanning in the mouth (1), the construction of the restoration on the screen (Computer Aided Design, CAD), (2), and the program-con-trolled manufacturing (Computer Aided Manufacturing, CAM), (3), were perfected by the industrial development team at Siemens Dental and the successor companies Sirona and Dentsply Sirona over the years. Competitive and copycat procedures emerged. The method was recognized by the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich, the Academy for Advanced Dental Training in Karlsruhe and worldwide. During the pioneering days, I was able to set up a research station at the Dental Institute of the University of Zurich in order to convince the professional world of the clinical applicability and reliability of the CEREC method and to train dentists in the method. The influx of patients was enormous, colleagues from all over the world were interested and took part in our scientific congresses. CEREC was included in the training of dental students. Scientific studies, dissertations as well as teaching material and publications in German and English had to be written; new findings, improvements and extensions had to be presented in many countries. Official tariffs for CEREC treatment have been established. The economic efficiency of CEREC has been proven in practice. Today (2020), after 40 years of development since the filing of the CEREC process patent in 1980, up to 50’000 dentists worldwide are using the CEREC system. However, it had always to be worked hard and over many developmental steps to constantly improve the method to today’s perfection and to win practitioners over to implement CEREC into their private practices. My story reports the inventive, scientific and organizational events as I have experienced them in chronological order. 

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