Computer Generation–What Does it Mean to You?
Today we make a big deal about computer generation, the ability to use the computer to design the restoration of your mouth. Is it just hype or is there something to computer generation?
Firstly, there is no substitute for a well-trained, experienced surgeon. No computer in the world can account for real-time decisions that we must make during the surgical procedure. Computers have given us the opportunity to plan the surgical procedure better. Robotics has allowed us to do some procedures remotely, but it is the decision of the surgeon that makes all of the difference in the pre-planning, the robotics, and the necessary changes during the surgical procedure itself.
I’m fortunate to have been in practice during the early days of dental implants. We used flat-plane x-rays that could not measure the depth or thickness of the gum or bone. In the preplanning, I had to estimate the thickness through indirect measurements in the mouth. Was that accurate? For the time, it was the best we had. Often, I had to make decisions once the patient was numb and the tissue reflected away from the bone. In other words, I had to see what I was operating on and then make decisions that were appropriate at the time of surgery.
Today, it is different. We take CT-scans on every surgical patient. From the CT-scan, specialized computer software gives us a picture of the jaw in three dimensions and accurately measure the jaw as well as to show us anomalies such as indentations in the jaw. We can then plan the surgery on the computer, placing the implants where we need to, and even develop a surgical guide that we place over the teeth to place the implants in the mouth in the same position as we did on the computer. That means less surgical time, less trauma, more post-operative comfort.
The knowledgeable surgeon is the best assurance of your success. Computer planning can take that knowledge and improve your surgical experience and outcome.
Lee N. Sheldon, DMD
Dr. Lee Sheldon does dental implant and periodontal therapy in Melbourne. His new book, The Ultimate Mouth Manual, may be found at all book outlets (also downloadable for free here).