Dental cone beam computed tomography (CT) is a special type of x-ray used in situations where traditional dental x-rays just aren’t enough. It isn’t used regularly because the radiation exposure from CT scanners is greater than that of regular dental x-rays. The CT scanner uses advanced technology that generate three dimensional (3-D) images of the mouth in a single scan. The scan captures dental structures, soft tissues, nerve paths, and bone in the face. Images captured with our cone beam CT allow for more accurate treatment planning.
CT scanners are effective for:
- Precise surgical placement for dental implants
- Surgical planning of impacted teeth (wisdom teeth)
- Diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Evaluation of the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals, and nasal cavity
- Locating the origin of pain or pathology
- Cephalometric analysis
- Reconstructive surgery
What to expect with CT Scanning
The use of the CT scanner is a painless process, and will allow you to return to normal activities as if nothing ever happened. You will first be asked to remain very still while the x-ray source and detector revolve around you in a 360-degree rotation or less. This takes about 20-40 seconds for a complete scan.
Benefits of CT Scanning
- The focused x-ray beam reduces scatter radiation, resulting in better image quality.
- A single scan produces a wide variety of views and angles that can be manipulated to provide a more complete evaluation.
- Cone beam CT scans provide more information than conventional dental x-ray, allowing for more precise treatment planning.
- CT scanning is painless, noninvasive and accurate.
- A major advantage of CT is its ability to image bone and soft tissue at the same time..
- No radiation remains in a patient’s body after a CT examination..
- X-rays used in CT scans should have no immediate side effects
Risks of CT Scanners
There’s always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation, but the benefits of a precise diagnoses outweighs the risk in most cases.
CT scanning, in general, is not recommended for pregnant women unless it is absolutely necessary because of the possible risks this creates to the the baby in the womb.
Since children are more sensitive to radiation, CT scans should be limited to patients where a CT scan is essential for proper diagnosis. For these situations, CT scans for children should always be done with low-dose techniques.