Technology is helping dental and oral health clinicians provide faster, more accurate, and well-rounded treatment to their patients. The dental world is undergoing major changes thanks to advancements in new technology. When dental implants were invented by a Swedish medical researcher in 1952, the procedure was considered a modern-day miracle. Now, seven decades later we’re experiencing another massive breakthrough in the form of digitally guided implants. With the right tools, dentists can virtually diagnose and treat cases before ever touching the patient. This lessens the margin for unexpected errors and outcomes during surgery. Dentists can design and print surgical guides from their office or outsource it to a dental laboratory.
CAD/CAM restorations are becoming the norm, making patient care simpler and faster than ever before. With the help of surgical guides, digital impressions, and 3D models, treatment plans can be catered specifically to the patient and executed efficiently and accurately.
Using Surgical Guides
Surgical guides are the latest advancement in dental implant technology. A surgical guide is created by taking impressions of the desired surgical implant site as well as a computer-guided 3D implant planning system. A surgical guide replicates the exact surfaces of the patient's intraoral setting and assists the surgeon to drill implants into the bone with optimal accuracy. Upon placement on the patient's jaw, the surgical guide uses sleeves to help guide the surgical instruments and implant to the proper location.
One of the main advantages of utilizing a surgical guide is increased accuracy. This not only reduces surgery time, but reduces trauma, pain, and swelling for patients. In turn, it leads to a shorter recovery time for patients. Additionally, it promotes consistent optimal implant placement, resulting in predictable patient care.
Taking Digital Dental Impressions
A digital impression is a virtual scan that creates a map of your teeth. This digital map allows dentists to view patient’s teeth on a computer screen rather than using a mirror, taking a mold, or looking at an X-ray, which are the traditional methods. A digital impression can be captured by a series of digital photographs or by a digital video. Both methods capture precise measurements in the mouth and send numerous small images that are immediately stitched together by the digital impression machine’s software to form a precise map of your mouth. Most of the time patients can view these images on a chair-side monitor.
For patients and offices, the advantages of using digital impressions often outweigh traditional methods. This new technology provides increased accuracy, efficiency, and productivity for patients. Digital impressions are also an excellent marketing tool for offices, as patients with strong gag reflexes have high fear of having impressions taken and digital tech eliminates that fear. Additionally, dentists have the convenience of scanning and emailing virtual impressions directly to the laboratory, saving much more time with case fabrication than sending traditional impressions by mail.
Using a 3D Printer
Digital printing provides an accurate and efficient way to construct surgical tools and produce restorations and reconstructions for patients. The 3D printing process first requires the dentist to take a digital impression of their patient’s mouth with a digital wand. The digital wand then creates a 3D image of the teeth and gums, which is saved as a digital file. CAD software enables the dentist to digitally design the tooth repair and print the finished product on a 3D printer. Additionally, 3D printers can print all types of dental implants including crowns, bridges, caps, dentures, and orthodontic appliances. Some 3D printers can also print the drill guides needed to complete certain procedures. Dental procedures retain a higher form of accuracy when using 3D printing because the printers convert digital images into exact physical objects. Curves, holes, and tiny shapes are no problem for a 3D printer. Furthermore, multiple parts can be printed at once and printing produces little or no little waste product.