Why Your Dentist May Create A Customized Surgical Guide For Your Dental Implant Procedure

3 July 2023
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


When undergoing the detailed and thorough planning process for your upcoming dental implant surgery, your dentist might mention a personalized surgical guide. You might think that this is simply a customized plan for your surgery. It certainly achieves that, but it does so much more. So why should dental implants have a surgical guide for each patient?

3D Scanning

The first step of the surgical guide is a type of three-dimensional X-ray, known as a 3D dental cone-beam computed tomography scan. It's slightly different from receiving a standard X-ray. The target area, unsurprisingly, is your jaw. You place your chin on a cushioned rest and hold very still. The scanner physically rotates around your head on a track, taking a 3D X-ray of your jaw.

Oral Structures

This diagnostic testing allows your dentist to see the oral structures contained within your jaw, with particular attention to nerves, arteries, any abnormally placed tooth roots, any partially submerged teeth — or anything that may impact the placement of your implant. The surgical placement of the implant (which is a small titanium alloy screw) is what allows it to become an artificial tooth root. 

Optimized Results

Once the implant has healed, it can support the full compressive force of a tooth, and the tooth (a ceramic dental crown) can now be cemented to it. The resulting restoration has the same bite force (and appearance) as a natural tooth. Your dentist wants to optimize your healing and the ultimate strength of the implant, and perfectly precise implantation aids this — hence the surgical guide.

Digital Dental Model

The data collected during your 3D scan creates a digital model of your jaw, detailing where the implant must be placed, how deep the drilling must be for successful implantation, and any specific angles that must be used. It's essentially a digital practice run for your surgery. This information is used to create the physical surgical guide.

Physical Guide

The guide itself is a physical object. Your dentist creates what looks like a transparent aligner tray, similar to the invisible braces used for orthodontic treatment — with some key differences. The aligner has a hole at the precise location where the implant must be placed. It points out the optimal insertion point for the implant, and when it's time for your surgery, your dentist slots the guide over your dental arch, with the implantation site then clearly marked. Surgery can now proceed.

Not all dental clinics create a surgical guide, but it can streamline the implant process, resulting in the best experience for the patient.