When Your Dentist May Recommend Dental Cone Beam CT

April 10, 2022

When you go to your dentist, traditional dental x-rays don't tell everything. While dentists have been relying on visual exams and regular x-rays for years to diagnose and treat teeth, not all dental health problems can be detected that way, and some dental procedures like implants need more modern technology. Dental Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is that technology. It's a different type of x-ray equipment that produces 3-D images using a moving computerized camera.

Dental cone beam computed tomography systems (CBCT) are similar to the medical CT or computing tomography systems that have been used in hospitals for decades. For example, if you've ever had an accident and hit your head, you may have had a CT scan to check your skull and brain for damage. With a flat panel CT or DVT, Digital Volume Tomography, the X-rays diverge to form a cone that scans you while you lie in a small tunnel.

The cone beam computed tomography technology is the same, but CBCT, especially used in dental imaging, has an advantage.A dentist can see more than your teeth. They see details of the nerve pathways, bones, soft tissue, and much more on a computer screen. Just like with today’s digital photos, they can zoom in and manipulate the high-quality images to get much more information than they can from film. This tool can help you and your dentist accurately diagnose problems, minimize treatments, and improve your long-term dental health.

When Your Dentist May Recommend Dental Cone Beam CT

Your dentist may recommend a 3-D dental image for various reasons. The longer the technology is around, the more uses medical experts have found.  

  • Orthodontics- Before creating braces, CBCT can help ensure the best results by getting a complete picture of the teeth and jaw.
  • TMJ-temporomandibular joint disorder is difficult to diagnose and treat without proper imaging. It is an excellent way to look for changes in structures surrounding the jaw joint for people with jaw pain.
  • Implants  - CBCT scans help in the planning of oral implants; they enable measurement of the distance between the alveolar crest and mandibular canal to avoid impingement of inferior alveolar nerve, avoid perforation of the mandibular posterior lingual undercut, and assess the density and quality of bone, and help in planning of the oral implant in the maxilla with special attention to the nasopalatine canal and maxillary sinus.
  • Detection of tumors and other oral health conditions– There are oral health problems linked to other diseases and health events. CBCT can save lives by detecting concerning conditions connected to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Oral Surgery- impacted teeth and other conditions requiring surgery have better results with 3-D technology because the surgeon gets an accurate picture of the structures and surrounding tissues.
  • Endodontics - when you need a root canal, seeing the soft tissue around the infected tooth can be important. CBCT improves the results for root canals and other procedures.
  • Difficulty with traditional X-rays- people who have a problem with uncomfortable regular x-rays can benefit from CBCT. Children and adults with small mouths often struggle to hold x-ray implements in their mouths.

CBCT makes diagnosis and treatment easier, more accurate, and more successful. In medicine, the longer technology exists, the more sophisticated it becomes, and the more applications are found. While there was a time when only a few providers were offering CBCT scans today, they have become the norm , and choosing a dentist who uses a dental imaging center with the most modern equipment makes sense.

Resources From Our Blog

Are Dental X-Rays Safe? Here’s What the Science Says
Everything You Need to Know About Maxillofacial CT Scans
10 Daily Habits That Can Keep Your Teeth Healthy
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