Stereotactic technology making its way into your mouth

January 10, 2019 06:22 PM

When a person needs to have a tooth replaced, they want it to look as good as the original. Now, periodontists have a new tool to make that happen.

You may have heard the term "stereotactic" used with surgery that needs great precision - for joint replacement, cancer treatment and brain surgery.

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Now, stereotactic technology is finding its way into your mouth.

Ed Grintner is in the healing phase. He recently had a dental implant and will soon get a crown to replace a lost front tooth. It's his second dental implant, but the first done by a new system resulting in less cutting of his gum. The result is less bleeding and much less discomfort.

"It was almost like night and day," he explained.

What his periodontist, Dr. Reed Ference, is using is the Guide X system - a stereotactic guidance system to put the titanium implant precisely where it needs to be.

"Basically, it's almost like a GPS for your mouth," explained Dr. Ference.

It all starts with a CT scan of the patient's head showing the jaw and the placement of the teeth. A little guidance device is placed in the patient's mouth and will follow the patient throughout the procedure.

A digital image of the teeth and gums is also taken. Then, that image is overlaid with the CT scan and Dr. Ference determines where the implant will go. All that information is then integrated with the stereotactic system.

"This is marking the position of the jaw and the position of the handpiece. So essentially, it’s a GPS for the position of the handpiece and the position, the angulation and the depth of where the implant should go," noted Dr. Ference.

It makes for a placement more precise than he could do freely by hand. It also reduces the need to open the gum to find nerves and ligaments that he used to need for guidance. 

"It’ll tell me if I'm off even a fraction of a millimeter," explained Dr. Ference.

The end result is a more perfectly placed replacement that's not only aesthetically the best it can be -- but also functionally the best.

"It was easier than a root canal," exclaimed Grintner.

Dr. Ference says the stereotactic supported procedure is 16 times more accurate than freehand implant placement.

Because the results are so much better, Dr. Ference says more and more insurance companies are paying for this.


Benita Zahn

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