Introduction to Guided Surgery

As you already are aware, digital dentistry is one of the most exciting areas in the field of dental technologies right now. It’s an area that is gaining interest and acceptance among many dentists from Oral Surgeons to Periodontists to Orthodontists and to General Dentists. This page is intended to inform you about specific areas that can greatly benefit your patients. We will explain in detail,

  • How Oral Surgeons, Periodontists, Prosthodontist, Orthodontists and  General Dentists will benefit
  • A complete overview of the process
  • Choosing the most appropriate surgical guide templates

How Can Your Patients Benefit From Digital Dentistry?

Before describing the process, you may wonder how all of this helps your patients. Here’s how:

  • First, digital dentistry can enable you to have enhanced diagnostic tools that can reveal problems and visual cues that, when coupled with your clinical experience, can lead to better intervention methods not otherwise knowable from prior technology.
  • Second, by planning in 3-D in advance of treating patients, chair-time or unexpected complications resulting in additional appointments can be reduced. Finally, digital dentistry can provide you with tools that lend themselves to forging stronger ties between surgical and restorative dentists that lead to optimum outcomes for your patients.

How Oral Surgeons, Periodontists, Prosthodontists, Orthodontists and General Dentists Benefit From Digital Dentistry

Oral surgeons, periodontists and prosthodontists benefit from digital dentistry in several ways. Surprises including oral and maxillofacial pathology, if present, can be reduced or eliminated. The amount of bone available for an implant can be determined in advance of surgery with respect to the precise location and positioning of an implant reducing any margin of uncertainty. Three-dimensional CT scans can provide accurate information on treatment area proximity to the aveolar nerve channel and sinus walls that 2-D x-rays may not always reveal. By working from digital copies of the same plan, dentists who perform surgery can work closer with restorative dentists before seeing the patient so that restorative concerns are addressed and outcomes optimized from both surgical and restorative perspectives. This can lead to restorative dentists being more satisfied with the results. What better way to garner more referrals than when patient, referring clinician and surgeon are happy with the outcome and restorative and surgeon are communicating to agree on treatment in advance? 

The Digital Dentistry Process

      • CT or CBCT scanning
      • 3D conversion
      • Treatment planning
      • Surgical guide templates


CT or CBCT Scanning

Whether you utilize Van Hook Dental Studio’s Crystal Imaging Center or an experienced maxillofacial scan center in your area, sending your patient for a scan is the first step in the process. The CT and CBCT acronyms stand for computed tomography and conebeam computed tomography respectively. Instead of a 2D panorex or bite wing x-ray, this technology is a 3D scan of a patient’s mandible or maxilla. The term scan is used because the machine creates a series of “slices” of the area being x-rayed. These slices are later assembled to make a 3D image.

Without any investment in equipment, clinicians getting started in digital dentistry can refer their patients to an experienced CBCT scan center in their area to accomplish this step. The key  things to know are that many maxillofacial CBCT machines emit much lower radiation than full-body CT machines found in hospitals.

3D Conversion

Getting a 3D conversion of your patients CT scan is where a powerful diagnostic capability enabled by this technology becomes apparent. A 3D conversion is a reconstruction of the patient’s mandible or maxilla from the CT scan slices. After all the slices are put together, a good conversion will reveal the anatomy in 3D with scatter created by reflections off filings during the scan removed. The conversion can also include colorization of anatomy to improve contrast between teeth, nerves, bone, etc. With a 3D conversion and viewing software (at no additional charges to you) you can see an accurate image of your patient’s mandible, maxilla or quadrant from any angle in three dimensions. 3D conversion is a prepatory step in treatment planning as the conversion image is used to plan a case in the treatment planning software.

Surgical Planning

Accurate, predictable treatment planning — Van Hook Dental Studio uses precise preoperative planning software that provides an increased level of confidence and an extra margin of safety for your patients. We can achieve amazing results. Real 3D planning allows you to find the ideal position of the implants, while taking into account both clinical and esthetical considerations. The software we use is compatible with every implant brand. You choose your favorite implant and we will fully support their product lines.

Surgical Guide Templates

Once a plan is completed and approved by you, the plan is used to fabricate a surgical guide. The surgical guide, as the name suggests, provides an accurate drilling guide prior to placing the implants. Guides are typically bone, tooth, or mucosa supported. Which method used depends on clinical factors. The method of support selected for a particular case must be known to order a guide. By sharing treatment plans between the surgeon and the restorative dentist, both can see and understand the limitations and opportunities each case presents. In this way, the restorative dentist ensures the crown can be placed as he or she intends while the surgeon knows in advance if more bone is needed or an alternate solution is needed to satisfy both surgical and restorative needs.

Model Scan

This service allows you to combine the cone beam scan with the optical scan of the model to greatly increase the precision of the case planning procedure. This is a cost effective step that eliminates the need for a scanning appliance, as we have the ability to scan a diagnostic wax up of the tooth positions.

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