Dental implants have been a long-accepted and reliable modality to replace a missing tooth or teeth. The success of a dental implant depends on a number of different factors. One of the greatest factors in dental implant therapy success, which is often overlooked, is positioning. The ideal implant placement is “prosthetically driven” in that the position is dictated by the planned dental restorations. With the advent of in-office digital dental technology, there is a process that can be utilized to ensure that a dental implant is placed in the desired location.
The first step of this process is creating a digital replica of the patient’s teeth using an intraoral scanner. An intraoral scanner is a device that takes hundreds of individual photos of the patient’s teeth and splices them together to create a three-dimensional image. These images are manifested into what is called an STL (stereolithography) file. STL files are universal 3D images used in CAD/CAM design for many different types of modern manufacturing technologies.