Implant Dentistry in a digital world
BDS (Ncle 2005), MFDS (RCS Emg 2008), Dip.Imp.Dent
Digital advancements in the last 18 years have drastically changed how we communicate, travel and even eat. The technology used in the provision of Implant Dentistry has not been left behind, allowing us as oral surgeons to offer even more predictable results for patients.
Implant dentistry has gone digital. This means that we collect data – such as clinical photographs of your teeth, x-rays and impressions – digitally. Furthermore, with the aid of computer programming and laboratory technicians, we can now put this data together to show you what the clinical outcome is likely to be before a tooth is even removed.
Traditional method – single missing tooth
If you have a missing single tooth, a dental implant can be placed into the jaw bone to fill the gap. Traditionally, a standard x-ray has been used to guide us in placing the implant. After 3 months of healing, when the implant is ready to have the crown (or visible tooth) made, an impression of the opposing set of teeth and a record of how your teeth come together is required. This involves using messy moulds and sticky impression material, which many patients find hard to tolerate.
These impressions are then sent to the laboratory where the technician uses them to make models that replicate your teeth and the top of the implant. The technician then makes your new tooth.
This has worked perfectly well for decades, so why change it? If it’s not broken don’t fix it. However, today we want faster and more predictable solutions. As a dental surgeon, if I can provide a more predictable outcome for my patients then I will want to be able to offer and deliver this to them.
Modern digital method – single missing tooth
With the modern method, before we consider placing an implant we carry out a CT scan to provide a 3D X-ray of the area. The Raglan Suite is one of only a few practices in the area to have a Cone Beam CT Scanner, allowing us to identify important anatomical structures such as the sinuses, the floor of the nose, blood vessels and nerves. This means that we can accurately plan where to place implants to ensure that they are safely away from these vital structures.
At the same time, instead of sticky moulds, we take a ‘digital’ impression of the patients’ upper and lower teeth. A digital impression uses a small, hand-held, intra-oral scanner that quickly captures hundreds of small pictures and then knits them together to create a complete 3D image of your teeth. This digital impression and the CT scan are then sent to the laboratory.
Together, the dental surgeon and technician use these to plan the precise positioning of the implant in relation to where the future tooth will be. A guide is then printed using a 3D printer. This guide fits over the patients’ current teeth and allows us to place the implant in the exact planned position. Once the implant has fused to the jaw bone after 3 months, we take a digital impression to make the new tooth. Once again, the teeth are scanned using our intra-oral scanner and the scan is sent to the lab technician who makes the tooth ready to fit onto the implant.
Here at The Raglan Suite we pride ourselves on being able to offer the best possible options to our patients using the best equipment available and 3D planning is one of them. As with any treatment choice, planning is the most important part and this is no exception. The majority of patients will be able to have their treatment carried out under a digital workflow. In some cases, we do need to use a combination of both or revert to the traditional format. Your clinician will inform you which is the best solution for you.
Dr. Haytham Abbas qualified in 2005 and has a Diploma Degree in Dental Implantology from Warwick University. Since then he has helped hundreds of patients regain their smiles and function with the aid of dental implants. For a free consultation, contact us here or call 01423 565432.