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, dentists have begun to rely on the 3D imaging techniques to provide them with a detailed view of the mouth and skull. The advantage that 3D imaging holds over regular dental x-rays is that the bone structure, bone density, tissues and nerves can be viewed clearly. Multiple reports are available from a single, low-dose scan. In our office we routinely use our CBCT machine for implant placement planning and comprehensive treatment planning.
In contrast to a traditional medical CAT scan, a dental CBCT machine uses very little radiation. While a medical CAT scan can use as much as 10,000 millisieverts of radiation, a 3D panorex (or CBCT) uses an amount comparable or less than a full mouth series of x-rays, with a standard scan using as little as 85 millisieverts per scan. As a comparison, an airplane flight from New York to Los Angeles exposes a traveler to 40 millisieverts of radiation.
The scanning process is noninvasive and requires only seconds to take.
How are CAT scans used?
CBCT scans are advantageous because they allow the dentist to magnify specific areas of the face. In our office, Dr. Mabry typically uses scans to easily view cross-sectional “slices” of the jaw, which makes planning treatment and accurate implant placement easier and faster.
Here are some of the main ways in which CBCT scans are used in dentistry:
- Assess the quality and measure the density of the jawbone to aid in the treatment planning of implants.
Determine where nerves are located.
Diagnose cancerous and non-cancerous tumors in early stages.
- View impacted teeth and accurately determine position and state of eruption.
- View root fractures that is normally not seen on 2D images.
- View the TMJ (Tempro Mandibular Joint) for an accurate assessment of the position, condition and contour of the condyle.
- View exact orientation and position of each tooth.
- Plan the complete surgical procedure in advance, from start to finish.
- Access bone levels and defects associated with periodontal disease.
- Diagnose root abscess, note the extent and involvement of the surrounding anatomy and help plan the course of treatment.
How are CAT Scans processed?
Scans are quick and simple to perform. During the scan, the patient sits stationary on a designated seat. The cone beams are used to take literally hundreds of pictures of the face. These pictures are used to compile an exact 3D image of the inner mechanisms of the face and jaw. Dr. Mabry is then able to zoom in on specific areas and view them from alternate angles.
Patients report the CBCT scanner is comfortable because they remain in a sitting position at all times. Additionally, the scanner provides an open environment, meaning that claustrophobic feelings are eliminated. The CBCT scan is an incredible tool that is minimizing the cost of dental treatment, reducing treatment time and enhancing the end results of dental surgery. For the patient's convienience, a CBCT Scan can be acquired at Dr. Mabry's office and viewed immediately.
If you have any questions or concerns about scans or 3D imaging, please contact our office.