One tremendous advance in dentistry is the availability of CBCT. Because of the very high cost of this technology, you may be referred to our clinic from other offices that do not have the machine.
Implant dentistry has a particular need to assess the three-dimensional structure of the jawbones. Traditionally two-dimensional radiographs have sufficed for most dentists’ needs such as with restorative or endodontics. While the advent of cone-beam computerized tomography (CBCT) has improved our diagnostic capability in many cases, (e.g. complex endodontic canals, furcation involvements, canine exposure, wisdom tooth removal, etc.), two-dimensional radiographs still dominate as the radiograph of choice for most dentistry.
Implant dentistry is where this standard shifts. The nature of nearly all surgical implant placement involves three-dimensional placement into a non-visible space. Two-dimensional radiographs can provide important information but they often lack the oral-facial dimension that completes the picture.
It’s basically a three-dimensional radiograph, a “3D x-ray”. CBCT stands for “Cone Beam Computed Tomography”. You may have heard of a medical “CAT scan”; this is a similar technology, but using a cone-shaped beam allows us to get the information we need with significantly less radiation.
The dentist will prescribe a CBCT scan for a number of reasons. Sometimes we want to see a 3D image prior to surgery or implant placement for your safety. Other times we need to see the jaw joints, sinuses, or some unusual anatomy.
There are a number of different scans, but a typical one lasts just under 9 seconds. You will have to remove any facial jewelry, hearing aids, and neck chains, and wait for a dentist to review that the scan has all the information we need, so if you are from an outside clinic, you will be in our clinic about twenty minutes.
That depends on what your dentist has requested. Sometimes they will have us burn a copy on disk and send it back with you; other times they will have us mail a disc or send it to them digitally through secure upload transfer. On occasion, we will also send the information to a specialist called an Oral & Maxillofacial Radiologist for review.