ConeBeam CT Imaging
Radiographs, or “x-rays,” have been used in dentistry for nearly as long as the profession has existed to look at the roots of teeth for abscesses, to assess bone levels around the teeth, and to look for cavities between the teeth. The technologies available have significantly improved from high-dose film, to high-speed film, to digital sensors, and now to conebeam computed tomography (CBCT). In general, conventional radiographs require higher doses of radiation (measured in microSieverts) than do digital x-rays to get the same quality of image.
Depending on the size of CBCT image taken, the radiation dose of a CBCT image that will give the dentist the ability to see the jaws and teeth in 3D can be comparable or less than the dosage needed for a full series of individual dental x-rays while enabling far superior diagnostic capabilities. For example, a full series of digital x-rays in our office requires about the same amount of radiation as a person gets just from living for 21 days under normal conditions; a CBCT image of the jaws and four digital bitewing x-rays (needed to look for cavities between the teeth) taken in our office requires a dosage comparable to about 8 ½ days of background radiation.
The difference is that the diagnostic potential of the CBCT image is far superior to a 2D full mouth series of x-rays!
Some items that can more readily be visualized with CBCT images than conventional digital radiographs are:
- Position of the nerve to teeth and for implant placement
- Accurate lengths of teeth
- “Inside out” visualizing of abscesses
- 3D bone assessment to evaluate for appropriate gum disease treatment
- Sinus position as they relate to the teeth
- Measurement of the narrowest part of the airway for sleep apnea risk assessment
- 3D evaluation of the jaw joints (TMJs) to look for bone changes
- Evaluation of impacted tooth position