3D imaging is a dental tool that makes it possible for dentists to have a clear understanding of what is going in a patient’s mouth. Though there are a few kinds, Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is the more common and is sometimes used as a synonym for 3D imaging. The process uses top-of-the-line scanners to form a full picture of a patient’s jaw, teeth, nerves, and soft tissues.
Clear imaging allows a dentist to have a more comprehensive view of the mouth than would be possible with just the natural eye. This allows the dentist to detect spots that need a thorough or gentle cleaning, and detect conditions or problems early on. The technology is used for dental implant planning, TMJ treatment, tooth extractions and root canals, periodontal disease remediation, other oral surgery, and sleep apnea treatment, just to name a few.
How Does 3D Dental Imaging Work?
CBCT is a kind of CT scan. It differs from traditional X-ray scans because it can capture images of nerves, soft tissues, and signs of disease or infection in addition to teeth and bones. This gives a more complete understanding of the anatomy of an individual’s mouth and the mechanics going on inside of it.
CBCT utilizes radiation for its 3D imaging process, but the minimal amount is significantly less than that of traditional dental X-rays, making it safer for both patients and techs. The procedure is even safe for pregnant women, unlike X-ray scanning. CBCT is also quicker and more accurate.
What to Expect
When going in for a CBCT scan, you will be asked to hold as still as possible, resting your head on a chin rest to minimize movement. Unlike traditional dental X-rays, you do not need to bite down on anything. Once you are in place, the arms of the instrument will rotate around your head briefly (about 20 seconds), capturing 100 to 600 images which a computer then compiles into a complete 3D image of your jaw and mouth.
The process is painless and gives your dentist valuable information to work with when prescribing specific dental care. The cost of 3D imaging is dependent on policy-specific insurance coverage, which in turn is usually dependent on why the scan is being taken.
Benefits of 3D Imaging
As mentioned above, 3D scans give a comprehensive picture of a patient’s mouth, allowing a dentist to make better diagnostic decisions. They also prove helpful when a dentist is preparing a patient to receive dental surgery, for example, when a patient is considering having dental implants installed. The scans allow the dentist to observe dental quality and whether or not a patient is a good candidate for implants.
CBCT scans capture the measurements not only of one’s mouth as a whole, but also of each individual tooth. Because of this, they can reduce the need for dental impressions which are highly unpleasant. While impressions may be necessary in some cases, the precise measurements captured by 3D imaging generally make the need for pressing your teeth into vile plaster obsolete. The metrics gathered can be used to create retainers, night guards, or Invisalign.
Improving Oral Health with 3D Imaging
Perhaps the best facet of 3D imaging is that it allows a dentist to discover problem spots early on. Many emergencies can be prevented if their underlying causes are caught before they can truly develop, and when they are, a patient may be saved a great deal of discomfort and money. At Covington Dental Arts in Riverton Utah, we use 3D imaging to identify the presence, progression, and effects of conditions such as cysts, infections, and tumors. As our greatest priority is patient wellness, you can be sure that if we recommend 3D imaging, it is to help you have the best possible oral health.