Due to the increasing demand for high-quality ceramic crowns and bridges, the CAD/CAM-based production of dental restorations has been a subject of intensive research during the last fifteen years.
A prerequisite for the efficient processing of the 3D measurement
of prepared teeth with a minimal amount of user interaction is the automatic determination of the preparation line, which defines the sealing margin between the restoration and the prepared tooth. Current dental CAD/CAM systems mostly require the interactive definition of the preparation line by the user, at least by means of giving a number of start points. Previous approaches to the automatic extraction of the preparation line rely on single contour detection algorithms. In contrast, we use a combination of different contour detection algorithms to find several independent potential preparation lines from a height profile of the measured data. The different algorithms (gradient-based, contour-based, and region-based) show their strengths and weaknesses in different clinical situations. A classifier consisting of three stages (range check,
decision tree, support vector machine), which is trained by human experts with real-world data, finally decides which is the correct preparation line. In a test with 101 clinical preparations, a success rate of 92.0% has been achieved. Thus the combination of different contour detection algorithms yields a reliable method for the automatic extraction of the preparation line, which enables the setup of a turn-key dental CAD/CAM process chain with a minimal
amount of interactive screen work.