Physicians have relied on computerized axial tomography scans (CAT) for many years. CAT scans are an X-ray procedure that uses many different X-ray images with the help of computers to generate cross-sectional or even 3D views of internal organs and structures within the body. A knee replacement surgery, for example, would never be performed without first examining 3D imaging.
More recently however, advanced dentists have begun to rely on 3D imaging techniques called Cone Beam Computed Tomography or CBCT scans to provide them with a detailed view of the teeth and jaw bone. The advantage that 3D imaging holds over regular dental x-rays is that bone structure, bone density, tissues, and nerves can be viewed clearly. Dr. Jason Alexander has been trained extensively with the latest 3D imaging software. His all digital office is designed to receive scans quickly and import needed images into the patient's digital chart. He also has the ability to electronically send the scan to a specialist if needed.
CBCT scans can be completed in about a minute at our local imaging center. This means that far less radiation enters the body than when a regular set of X-rays are taken. The main use for 3D scans is as an aid to plan dental implant treatment and other oral surgery. The implant can be placed virtually on the 3D image to ensure size is optimal for the amount of bone in the area. Important structures like nerves are clearly visible to ensure a safe and predictable procedure.
Dental implants are the most sophisticated replacement for missing teeth, but have historically proven to be time-consuming to place. 3D scans vastly reduce the time it takes to place implants. For your safety Dr. Alexander may require a CBCT scan prior to placing implants in limited bone or near vital structures.
How are CBCT scans used?
3D scans are advantageous because they allow the dentist to magnify specific areas of the jaw. In addition, the dentist can easily view cross-sectional “slices” of the jaw, which makes planning treatment easier and faster. New imaging software now enables rotation of the image from any angle.
Here are some of the main ways in which CBCT scans are used in dentistry:
Assess the quality of the jawbone where the implant will be placed.
Determine where nerves are located.
Determine if enough bone exists to place implants.
Measure the density of the jawbone where the implant will be placed.
Pinpoint the most effective placement for implants, including the angle of best fit.
Plan the complete surgical procedure in advance, from start to finish.
Precisely decide on the appropriate size and type of implants.
View exact orientation and position of each tooth.
View impacted teeth.
Attempt to locate any unfilled nerves in teeth that have had a root canal.
How are scans performed?
CBCT scans require quick and simple visit to our local scanning center, IMAGDENT. Patients prepay for the scan and are given the phone number and directions for the scanning center. We often make the appointment at our office to ensure the process is expedited. During the scan, the patient stands stationary as directed. The cone beams are used to take literally hundreds of pictures of the Jaw. These pictures are used to compile an exact 3D image of the inner mechanisms of the face and jaw. Dr. Alexander will receive the scan electronically or on a disc within two days. He will read and perform the virtual treatment at no additional charge.
Previous patients report the CBCT scanner is comfortable quick and convenient. Additionally, the scanner provides an open environment, meaning that claustrophobic feelings are eliminated. The CBCT scan is an incredible tool that is reducing treatment time and enhancing the end results of dental surgery.
If you have questions or concerns about CBCT scans or 3D imaging, please contact our office.