Cone Beam Computed Technology

The Benefits of Dental Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

By: Michelle Tunquist

What is CBCT?

CBCT stands for Cone Beam Computed Tomography.  Sometimes, this type of technology is referred to as computerized tomography.  It uses specialized x-rays to take cross-sectional images of the body.  Dentists use cone shaped x-rays to take images of the patient’s teeth, mouth, neck, jaw, ears, nose and throat.  The data obtained from the scan is used to recreate 3D images on the computer so that the dentist can get a good look at the patient’s teeth and mouth.  

How Can it be Used?

There are many uses for CBCT.  Dentists use the information obtained from the scan to better diagnosis and treat patients.  The following procedures benefit from the use of CBCT:

  • Implant Planning. Dentists use CBCT to assist in implant planning.  The scans from the CBCT give the dentist an accurate view of the patient’s jaw and teeth, and allows them to better plan for the insertion of an implant.  
  • Implant Post-operative Assessment. After an implant is placed, dentists can use the CBCT to determine how well the mouth is healing after the implant and if any other steps need to be made.
  • Endodontic Treatment. The CBCT allows dentists to see if there is an infection at the root of the tooth and whether the patient needs a root canal.  
  • Impactions and Extractions. A CBCT scan allows the dentist to see if any of the patient’s teeth are impacted or need to be extracted.  It also allows the dentist to plan the extraction.  
  • Inferior Alveolar Nerve Location. CBCT technology allows for the superior ability to locate the inferior alveolar nerve so that it can be better protected during wisdom teeth surgery, root canals and dental implants.  Injury to the nerve is associated with a significant reduction in quality of life, so anything that helps protect the nerve is a great benefit.
  • Odontogenic Lesion Location. CBCT can locate any lesions, cysts or tumors that may be located in the mouth.  This can help in the diagnosis and treatment of these lesions.
  • Pathological Characterization. The CBCT can be used to determine if there are any concerns for disease and whether further investigation is needed.  
  • Sinus Location. Some dental pain can radiate from the sinuses.  Using the CBCT can locate and view the sinus to help with diagnosis and treatment.
  • Surgical Guide Construction. Information obtained from the CBCT can be used to plan for surgery.  
  • Trauma Evaluation. If there is trauma to the mouth or teeth, CBCT can give an accurate look at the trauma and what has been injured.  
  • TMJ Visualization. Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome occurs when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull is injured.  The CBCT can help the dentist get a good look at the area to help determine treatment options.
  • CAD/CAM Devices. CAD stands for computer aided design, and refers to technology that allow dentists to better design crowns and implants.  
  • Subtle Osteoarthritic Changes. The CBCT can be used to get a good look at the patient’s bone structure so any changes to the bone composition can be noted.  
  • Unexpected Clinical Challenges. If there are any unexpected problems during the dental visit, such as a broken needle, the dentist can use the scan to determine how to proceed.
  • Airway Assessment. The scan can allow the dentist to see the patient’s airway and help determine whether a snoring device could be used.   

What are the Benefits?

The use of CBCT technology has many benefits that have helped dentists provide excellent care for their patients’ dental health.  X-rays provide valuable insight into what is happening in the patient’s’ mouth, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment.  The following are some of the many benefits of using CBCT:

  • CBCT creates 3D images instead of the 2D images created by regular x-rays.  
  • CBCT creates better image quality than a regular x-ray because it reduces scatter radiation.
  • A single scan creates a wide variety of views.
  • A CBCT scan is painless, noninvasive, and accurate.
  • CBCT can create an image of bone and soft skin tissue at the same time.
  • No radiation remains on the body after the scan.
  • There are no immediate side effects.

Are there any risks?

CBCT is an x-ray which means it uses radiation.  There is always a chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation.  However, the benefits of using CBCT outweighs the slight risk of exposure to radiation.  Pregnant women should avoid x-rays if possible, and small children should only have x-rays done if medically necessary to obtain a diagnosis.

Idaho Falls CBCT

Our Idaho Falls dental practice uses CBCT technology so that we can provide the best dental service possible.  We want to keep your smile healthy, and CBCT technology is a non-invasive, pain free way to get a stellar look at your mouth.  With the latest available technology, we can get an accurate image of your teeth and jaw, and can create the most effective treatment plan.  Call today to make an appointment so that we can keep you smiling.  

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