Cone beam computed tomography is a dental application of CT imaging long used in medicine. By using a different radiation pattern and a smaller sensor, it allows for less radiation than medical imaging, but the same high quality image used in high-stakes situations. Previously only available in a few specialists offices around town, the latest generation of this technology offers our office an additional tool in some of the trickier general dentistry situations.
CBCT scans allow for 3-dimensional viewing of the teeth, jaws, joints, and sinuses, removing the superimposition and angulation of traditional lower face x-rays. CBCT scans are used for advanced diagnostics and planning, they are not for routine cavity detection.
In order to see a dental abscess on a traditional dental x-ray, roughly 30% of the surrounding bone must be degraded. By looking at the same area in 3-dimensions, we are able to see, and therefore deal with, problems sooner in the disease process. We are continually amazed at this technologies ability to find infections around teeth that have always looked normal on conventional imaging, but patient's have claimed 'just don't feel right'.
In large re-construction cases, where replacement of multiple or all teeth is necessary, specialized software allows us to work with local oral surgeons and dental laboratories to plan tooth and implant positions digitally, essentially completing the case on a screen before you ever open your mouth. Once the plan is perfect, a custom guides and parts can be fabricated to put that plan into action.
Fortunately a rare part of our practice, when problems are found in the bones that make up the jaw, this imaging technology allows us to capture an image to send to a board certified oral and maxillofacial radiologist for proper follow-up and diagnosis, all in our office.