Dental implants are the state-of-the art approach to replacing missing teeth. Whether you are missing a single tooth or nearly all of your teeth, dental implants provide the durability, stability and strength that endures for decades. Implants perform almost like your natural teeth. And when dental implants are truly affordable, as they are in Costa Rica, it’s a “can’t lose” situation.
But did you know that there is now an approach to dental implants that makes insertion less invasive and their placement more precise? It is called a “surgical guide.”
To really appreciate the difference between implants with and without the use of surgical guides, you have to understand some of the technical aspects of a dental implant. Let’s start with what we mean by “invasive.” Dental implants require a hole that is drilled into the bone of the jaw. The hole must be placed at the most ideal location, drilled at a precise 90-degree angle to the jawbone and drilled to the exact depth specified by the manufacturer.
In order to achieve the precision needed, most dentists cut the gums away from the bone to better judge where to drill, and clearly see the angle and depth. Dental implants are considered a surgical procedure since implanting them traditionally requires cutting the gums and exposing the bone. Beyond that, the precision is entirely determined by the visual and manual skill of the dentist. While most experienced dentists are very good at making these judgments, some implants are inserted improperly, which can cause problems later down the road.
Of course, surgery requires that the gums are closed with sutures that may remain in the mouth for a week or so as the swelling reduces and the gums heal.
But what if there were a way to insure that the location, angle and depth of the drilling for dental implants were always 100% accurate and didn’t require cutting the gums and exposing the bone? That’s exactly what surgical guides are designed to do.
Surgical guides are small, custom-designed dental devices. A surgical guide is designed using digital information from 3D CT scan X-rays about the structures of the mouth that are ordinarily invisible. With this data, the dentist can plan precisely where the drilling is to be done using a 3D model of the patient’s mouth and special software, all without cutting their gums.
Using this 3D model, the surgical guide is manufactured to fit the patient’s teeth and jaw with precision openings exactly in the optimal sites for the implants. A rigid sleeve is inserted to control the angle and depth of the drill, ensuring accuracy.
The difference in the patient experience and recovery with the use of surgical guides can be significant because no scalpels or stitches are required. A patient from Costa Rica Dental Team commented on his experience having implants both without and with a surgical guide:
On one of the implants I had (without a surgical guide) … I came home bruised and felt like I had been beaten up. Compared to the following visit where it seemed liked they used some kind of guide (with surgical guide) it was almost painless.”
If you are interested in dental implants and dental clinics that use surgical guides in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on the right. A participating dental specialist will reply to your needs.