Why use guided surgery


In this blog, we will go over

  • What is guided surgery
  • Why use it at all
  • A short history
  • Best use cases
  • How integrating guided surgery with Northstar will boost your dentistry’s growth.


Why guided surgery at all?

Guided surgery is the process of using a surgical guide to aid accuracy and safety during implantation procedures. Dental surgical guides are precise tools used in implant dentistry to assist in the accurate placement of dental implants. These guides are tailored for every patient using digital impressions as a blueprint.


This ensures that the implants are at the right angle, depth, and placement thus increasing the overall success rate of the operation. Surgical guidance limits complications, reduces time spent on surgeries, and improves the precision of implant placement leading to better functional and aesthetic outcomes.

Northstar partial surgical guide, connected

They prove invaluable largely in complex cases where precision is critical for optimal health and patient success.


One issue that most dentists have with employing guides is that they believe they don’t need them.


That’s just too fine for a guide. It’s common among many freehand surgeons who think that their expertise makes them have “superior dentistry” thus not needing surgical guides even if they were tried on some of their best use case patients. Nonetheless, it will still be necessary to have an experienced surgeon who can do freehand but there is no excuse for not trying out surgical guides merely to save time and improve profitability.


Guided surgery drastically reduces the amount of manual precision needed for each case you use it in. While this is true, you still need an experienced surgeon who can freehand but simply wants to cut down on time and increase profitability. 


Unfortunately, this thinking can lead to missing out on massive patient health and practice growth advantages.

Northstar surgical guide


Specifically, using surgical guides allows for health advantages such as:

  • Minimally invasive
  • Avoids delicate areas and stitches in most cases
  • Reduced surgery time, like from a couple of hours to half an hour.
  • Utilizes other dental advances like incredible intraoral scanners
  • Increased implant success rate

Additionally, incredible growth opportunities for your practice:

  • Allows for a mainstream, optimized approach to how you use implants
  • Get paid more for the same or less work time
  • Makes your patient trust you more
  • Predicability, precision, and safety will boost your practice in numerous ways.

Like all other tools in your toolbox, surgical guides work best in certain scenarios.

Best use cases for guided surgery?

The time to use guided surgery would be right after the tooth extraction. In cases where the patient is looking for or needs a quick or immediate implant, surgical guides obviously would not be suitable as they are better reserved for quality cases and the best aesthetic and health results. 

That means that in cases where the patient desires low-chair time and a more segmented, high-quality process, guides are great to have.

We recommend, no matter how skilled the surgeon, that in every case you think it is suitable you incorporate surgical guides. 

Downsides of guided surgery:

  • Surgery guide w/ Straumann implant * 1

    Higher cost for the patient

  • This makes some dentists think that guided surgery allows for brain-free and easy surgery
  • More patient appointments

History of surgical guides

Surgical guides date back to the middle of the 20th century, showing prominent development parallel to the development of dental implantology and digital technology. (Read our OTHER BLOGS!!) The placement of dental implants in the past was performed without guides, dependent on the experience and anatomic knowledge of the clinician. On the other hand, the increasing demand for more accurate and predictable results along with incredible intraoral scanning improvements has given grounds for starting the conceptualization of surgical guides.


Imaging technologies, mainly computed tomography, during the 1980s presented dental implantology with detailed 3D images of the jawbone. This advance in imaging consequently allowed for the formation of rudimentary surgical guides. These guides were normally developed from dental impressions and stone models that helped, in an extremely elementary way, in aligning the pilot drill. While representing an improvement, they were relatively crude and did not compare to the sophistication of guides today.


It was in the 1980s that CAD/CAM technology was first introduced to dentistry. This new technology permitted more accurate and individualized surgical guides to be fabricated. A dentist, with these innovative three-dimensional CT reconstructed images, could now make models of a patient’s oral anatomy and then design guides that would allow a dentist to have better alignment and depth control in the placement of implants. This heralded a quantum jump in terms of the accuracy and reliability of surgical guides.


In the early 2000s, with the introduction of cone-beam computed tomography, the accuracy of surgical guides was boosted once more. The CBCT image is of high resolution and dimensionality, with low valuation, compared to a conventional CT. Hence, in consideration of this development, it was much easier to include detailed anatomical data into the design phase of surgical guides, achieving even more precise and predictable implant placement.


Basically, with the integration of digital workflow, implant dentistry practice has been standardized within the past few years. Special software allows for the virtual planning of implant placement, which can then be transferred into the fabrication of surgical guides without any problem. Type integrations like these will make sure that the surgical guides fit according to the plan preoperatively; thus, offering accuracy and efficiency about implant procedures in general.


Surgical guides in implant dentistry today range from the simplest of pilot guides to fully guided systems, where every aspect of the drilling and implantation process is controlled. The development of surgical guides mirrors trends taking place in greater dental technology, such as a focus on precision, customization, and the advancement of patient outcomes. In the future, the advanced surgical guide techniques provided in dentistry will be more accurate and user-friendly, with advanced technologies at their cores, more integrated with other tools in the chain, thus improving implantology even more.

The different types of guides


Pilot Guides

Dental implant surgeries are most often guided by the use of pilot guides, which are the simplest kind of surgical guides. Mainly they are used to determine the initial drill trajectory and depth for the implant site. This guide ensures that the first drilling step – i.e. angulation and position of the pilot drill – is correct. They serve to decrease error during subsequent stages of drilling by supporting orientation in the beginning. Pilot guides are also very versatile, with use cases varying greatly. 

Northstar partial surgical guide


Partial Guides

Partial guides are “half-guided” or “partially guided” systems that offer more control than pilot guides but do not provide full guidance throughout all stages of drilling. They also allow for several drill placements including at least a preliminary one and others up to a certain diameter. The partial guide directs multiple steps in the drilling sequence, increases accuracy, and reduces deviation from the intended implant path. Therefore it is suitable for most moderately difficult cases.


The fully guided method of placement of dental implants is considered the most thorough and precise. The guides take care of every step involved in drilling and inserting an implant thereby ensuring that each drill and the final implant are placed according to a pre-surgical plan. Fully guided systems consist of patient’s mouth digital scans and 3D models that facilitate accurate positioning of implants unmatched by any other type of guide. This kind of guidance offers significant benefits in challenging anatomical locations, complicated cases or when more than one implant is being planted, where accuracy is highly important. By getting rid of complicationsand risks, improving surgical productivity; providing excellent results for patients at any stage, regardless of the difficulty level or complexity; reducing errors, and increasing the predictability as well as precision all over the procedure, fully guided surgical guides have increased efficacy

How do we make the best surgical guides?

The best surgical guides are the ones with the least mechanical errors and the fastest creation process, so pick a lab with experience and a reputation for consistency. If you want to try us out, schedule a meeting with Patrick to get some sample work or contact us. 

Northstardentalstudio@gmail.com  –  651-457-5380



  1. Straumann Guided Surgery. (n.d.). https://www.straumann.com/en/dental-professionals/products-and-solutions/guided-surgery.html