Q:

What is a dental surgical stent?

A:

A dental surgical stent is an acrylic device made from a model of the patient's mouth that fits over the area where dental implants are to be placed and helps guide the oral surgeon in correct placement of implants. The stent contains holes that are pre-drilled.

The dental surgical stent is placed over existing teeth, bone or gums. Impressions are made of the patient's mouth and from those impressions molds are created. These molds are then used to create the surgical stent from acrylic. X-rays or CT scans are also used to create the stent.

Some stents are made with acrylic and metal or ceramic tubes to guide drilling. When the stent is placed, the surgeon can drill through the holes in the stent; the stent helps guide the placement and angle of the drilling. Stents can be restrictive or non-restrictive. Restrictive stents allow the surgeon to drill precisely where the stent guides and therefore place the implants in an exact position. Non-restrictive stents give the surgeon some leeway in the implant placement. A drawback of non-restrictive stents is that the implant can be placed in a position that was not originally planned by the restorative dentist. Radiographs can also be taken with the stent in place to verify placement before drilling.

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