One of the main objectives of restorative dentistry is creating visually pleasing restorations that will function properly and have a positive long-term prognosis.
Accurate planning and placement of implants plays a significant role in the success of implant-supported restorations. Using digital technology for planning implant placement ensures that you will achieve the desired outcomes and satisfy the expectations of the patient and professional team members.
Digital technology in dental clinics, private offices, and dental laboratories is becoming the standard of care throughout the profession. Digital implant planning requires three-dimensional imaging via an intraoral scanner, sometimes complemented by 3-D printers.
Endodontists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons all use cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT); but the benefits of patient safety and quality assurance in the planning of implant placement make digital technology usage critical to treatment success. No arena is better suited for 3-D imaging than in implant treatment planning.
Using digital technology for implant planning provides countless advantages for primary clinicians, whether general dentists or dental specialists, lab technicians, and patients.
Advantages of Digitally Planned Implant Placement for the Primary Clinician:
- Optimizes implant placement and minimizes the chances of damage through clear imaging of anatomic structures such as adjacent roots, sinus membranes, nerves, and blood vessels
- Reveals height, width, depth, and structure of available bone to determine the need for bone augmentation, guided bone regeneration, ridge expansion, or grafting
- Allows visualization of quantity, quality, and volume of available bone and determines suitable alternate locations for implants, if needed
- Increases predictability by providing better precision in diagnosing and treatment planning
- Reveals limitations for treatment options early in the planning stage
- Improves quality management through elimination of unexpected intraoperative decisions or deviations from protocols
- Allows sharing in the treatment planning process by an interdisciplinary team
- Facilitates obtaining second opinions when needed
- Improves case acceptance by patient
Advantages for the Lab Technician:
- Better communication with the primary clinician through all stages of implant planning, fabrication, and placement
- Clear visualizations of the location of anatomical structures to facilitate treatment planning
- Accurate evaluation of deviations in safety zones around anatomical structures that may become clinically relevant
- Precise assessment of the available bone volume and quality
- Early identification of potential problems during the planning stage
- Informed choice of implant type best suited for the anatomic situation and demands of prosthetic design and materials
- Conducive to backward planning after the final restoration is selected.
Finally, Advantages for the Patient:
- Enhances understanding of treatment and outcome expectations
- Reduces surgery time due to improved efficiency
- Ensures that the desired outcome will meet expectations
- Requires fewer appointments
- Increases safety of implant placement with 3-D visualization of anatomical structures
- Improves predictability for expected restorative outcomes for function and aesthetics
As with all recent technology, using digital planning for implants has its disadvantages.
Obviously, the cost of the hardware and software is the first drawback. The implants themselves are costly for the patient and require a commitment of, not only money, but time and willingness to undergo stressful procedures.
Making that process easier for the patient and the procedures more efficient for the clinician justifies the long-term investment.
Another disadvantage is the learning curve for the clinician using the programs. You must have specialized training to acquire expertise with the programs and hardware. Developing the virtual treatment plan with the team takes time away from delivering direct care to other patients.
While these disadvantages are real, they are certainly outweighed by the advantages of optimized implant planning and ensuring more efficient and safer surgical outcomes.
Implement Digital Planning Into Your Practice
Since the introduction of the first generation of digital radiography, technology has become an integral element of a modern, progressive dental practice. For dentists providing implant services, planning for surgery using 3-D technology provides so many advantages, to the clinician, the patient, and the lab technician, that the disadvantages seem negligible.
Using fast, powerful computers available today, user-friendly software, and knowledgeable lab technicians, implant planning using digital technology is more feasible than ever.
Contact First Choice Lab® today for advice and guidance so you can comfortably incorporate digital implant planning into your practice!