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Imagine this: An implant surgeon is performing a thorough examination of your mouth. The surgeon rotates your jaw from side to side and up and down, looking for the optimal sites in which to place dental implants — and the proper size, shape and orientation for the implants to have. He or she may test several alternatives, considering the underlying anatomical structures, and the bone density and quality that the examination reveals. Finally, a surgical plan is developed: This includes a set of precise specifications for implant position, size and depth, and a template for creating a perfectly fitting set of replacement teeth. But no invasive procedures of any type have been performed so far. In fact, you aren't even present.

Welcome to the world of computer-guided dental implant surgery. What we have described is one step in the process that allows you to receive a set of replacement teeth with the minimum amount of surgery (and time spent in the dental chair), and the maximum level of preplanning foresight. It can result in faster overall treatment time, less discomfort, and an outcome that pleases everyone. Let's look a little more closely at the entire process of computer-guided implant surgery — a procedure at the forefront of dental implant technology.

The First Phase: Making A Virtual Model

It all begins with a complete examination and modeling of your existing teeth, gum and jaw structures. In many cases, a physical impression (replica) of the jaws is made, which will aid in planning the location of the new teeth. But the modeling doesn't stop there: A high-tech, three-dimensional CT (computed tomography) scan is also performed. This allows us to examine the structures (including bone, nerve tissue and sinus cavities) which lieinside the jaw. It is often accomplished using “cone-beam” CT technology, in which the scanning device quickly captures a complete digital image of internal structures as it rotates around your head.

The next step of the process relies on powerful computers and sophisticated software to take the raw CT scan data and translate it into a 3-D model of the jaw. This virtual model can be manipulated on a computer screen — rotated, measured, even “operated” on — so that we can visualize the placement of dental implants and determine their optimum position with a high degree of accuracy. Using this technology, it's now possible for us to evaluate anatomical structures virtually — structures it once would have taken surgery to reveal — and to plan out the implant procedure accordingly.

The 3-D model we have developed is then used for two purposes: to create a precise guide for the implant surgery, and to allow the dental laboratory to pre-manufacture a set of replacement teeth that will fit precisely in the jaw. An advanced set of CAD/CAM (computer aided design/manufacture) processes is used to generate the physical objects — in this case, the surgical guide and the prosthetic teeth. Depending on your individual situation, the new teeth may be attached the same day as implant surgery, or after a healing period of 6 to 12 weeks. In either case, our precision modeling ensures that they will fit perfectly with the implants and the jaw.

Implant Surgery: Following the Plan

The implant surgery itself is typically performed under local anesthesia, and often requires no sutures (stitches). In the surgical procedure, the template we have produced (which resembles a nightguard or athletic mouthguard) is securely (but temporarily) fixed in position on the jaw. The openings in this template form precise guides for the placement of the implants — accurate in terms of position, width and depth. In fact, the implants fit so perfectly into these prepared sites that we can have new teeth placed the same day as implant surgery.

Since so many of the details have been accomplished in the planning stages, computer-guided implant surgery is typically uneventful for the patient. It can result in shorter time in the chair, less discomfort during recovery — and a highly pleasing result. It has even been called the most significant innovation in implant technology since osseointegration — the fundamental process by which a dental implant becomes fused with the bone.

The practice of dentistry encompasses an amazing array of services and procedures, all with a common goal: to help you to preserve your natural teeth as long as possible, ensure your oral health, and keep you looking and feeling great throughout life.

Cosmetic dentistry video

There's so much that can be done these days to improve the appearance of a person's smile — at any age. From powerful, professional whitening treatments to amazingly realistic porcelain veneers to state-of-the-art dental implants, there's a wide range of exciting possibilities.

The first step in any smile makeover is a thorough dental examination to make sure that your cosmetic problems really are just that, and not a sign of underlying dental disease. Once your health has been established, your smile can be cosmetically enhanced in a variety of ways.

Cosmetic & General Dentistry Procedures

Modern dentistry offers a wide range of services to make sure your teeth stay healthy, function well and look great. These procedures include:

  • Cleanings & Oral Exams, to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and catch early signs of dental disease
  • Cosmetic Bonding, to repair small chips or cracks
  • Crowns & Bridgework, to replace large amounts of lost tooth structure and/or missing teeth
  • Dental Implants, for the longest-lasting tooth replacement available today
  • Extractions, to remove unhealthy teeth that cannot be saved
  • Fillings, to restore decayed teeth
  • Inlays & Onlays, to fill teeth with larger cavities
  • Invisalign Clear Aligners, for highly discreet orthodontic treatment
  • Oral Cancer Screenings, to detect a dangerous disease that can be cured if caught early
  • Orthodontic Treatment, to move teeth into the right position
  • Porcelain Veneers, for repairing larger chips and cracks, and reshaping teeth
  • Removable Dentures, to help you smile again
  • Root Canal Treatment, to rescue diseased teeth
  • Sealants, to help prevent cavities
  • Teeth Whitening, to brighten a faded or discolored smile
  • TMD Treatment, for pain in the jaw area that can interfere with biting and chewing
  • Tooth-Colored Fillings, for a completely natural, healthy look
  • Tooth Decay Prevention, so you keep your natural teeth as long as possible

When to Visit the Dentist

Dental appointment.Many people only go to the dentist when something is wrong. That is truly a shame, because they are missing out on so many preventive services that can save discomfort — and expense — down the road. Regular dental visits are essential to make sure oral health problems — from tooth decay to oral cancer — are detected and treated in a timely manner. Some individuals may need to see the dentist more often than others to stay on top of problems like plaque buildup and gum disease, but everyone should go at least once per year.

Your regular dental visits will include a thorough oral exam to check the health of your teeth and gums; and oral cancer screening to spot any suspicious signs early; and a professional cleaning to remove stubborn deposits and make your teeth look and feel great. So don't miss out on the many benefits dentistry offers you and your family!

Your Smile Makeover

The most important job you have as a member of your own smile makeover team is to communicate exactly what you don't like about your smile and how you'd like it to be different. Before the first consultation, give some thought to the following questions:

  1. What do you like or dislike about the color, size, shape and spacing of your teeth?
  2. Are you pleased with how much your teeth show, both when you smile and when your lips are relaxed?
  3. Do you want teeth that are perfectly aligned and a bright “Hollywood White,” or would you prefer a more natural look with slight color, shape and shade variations?
  4. Would you like more or less of your gums to show when you smile?

It is extremely helpful for you to bring in pictures you have collected — of smiles you like, smiles you don't like, and/or photos of the way your own smile used to look, if that's the result you're aiming for. Now is the time to get started on creating a smile that will make you feel as good as you look!

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