Everything You Need to Know About 3D Dental X-Rays

Everything You Need to Know About 3D Dental X-Rays

Dental technology has advanced incredibly in the past couple of decades, resulting in dramatic improvements in quality of care, safer procedures, treatment of complex cases, faster healing times, aesthetically pleasing outcomes, and long-lasting results. One of the most recent and exciting developments in dentistry is in diagnostic technology and involves the advent of 3D dental X-rays.

What is 3D dental imaging?

When treating patients, 3D dental X rays give dentists a better view of the oral or dental problem they’re diagnosing, which allows them to come up with the most effective treatment plan for the situation.

Compared to traditional 2D X-rays that only produce a two-dimensional picture of the mouth, 3D dental imaging uses cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) equipment to provide 3D-rendition of the patient’s mouth and skull.

The machine takes pictures of the teeth and skull and uses them — through robust digital processing software — to construct a 3D image that can allow for extremely accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. However, patients need to be as still as possible during the 10-40 seconds of image-collection to prevent any distortions.

3D dental imaging offers several benefits over other diagnostic technologies, including:

  1. Radiation limitation

    The size of the main X-ray beam produced using 3D CBCT scanners helps to contain the radiation to only the target area, which minimizes unnecessary exposure to radiation.

  2. Reduced scan time

    CBCT scans can acquire all scan images from all angles in a single rotation that takes about 10 seconds for a regional scan or 20-40 seconds for a complete or full mouth X-ray, which not only reduces time spent on the scan, but also eliminates the risk of image defects caused by the natural movement of the patient.

  3. Reduced radiation exposure

    3D scans emit significantly less radiation compared to 2D scans, plus it’s better focused to reduce scattered radiation and improve image quality. This reduces risks associated with prolonged, repeated radiation exposure such as eye damage, malignant tumours, and other health risks.

  4. Non-intrusive

    Unlike traditional 2D scans where you need to bite down on a mould, CBCT scans your whole head without requiring you to do anything, which is particularly helpful for patients with gum or tooth sensitivity and special needs, as well as children.

  5. Detailed images

    With that one CBCT scan, the dentist will receive a lot more details than a conventional 2D X-ray. The image shows pathology, musculature, nerves, infections, and much more, allowing the dentist to properly treat sinus issues associated with the teeth, properly plan for extractions, implants, and root canals, and accomplish a lot more in diagnostics and treatment planning.

  6. Diagnostic accuracy

    As indicated from the previous points, 3D imaging can capture problems that would otherwise go unnoticed with 2D scans, because 3D scans can differentiate between different types of tissue. With 3D CBCT imaging, the dental practitioner can properly visualize and identify the pathology, infections, joint dysfunctions, and abnormal sinus anatomy for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.

  7. Bone quality evaluation

    With 3D imagery, dentists can be able to assess the quality of underlying bone tissue for treatment planning. This is particularly important for dental implant placement to ensure there’s sufficient bone before treatment begins. 3D images also help to determine the size and location of breaks and lesions.

  8. Interactive display

    Dental practitioners also enjoy the ability to explain treatment plans while demonstrating the features in 3D, which is not possible with 2D images. With CBCT scans, the dentist can reorganize data and magnify/annotate the image as desired.

  9. User-friendly

    With the numerous benefits of 3D diagnostic images, CBCT scans will soon become the standard in dentistry diagnostics. However, perhaps one of the features pushing for its quick adoption is how easy it is to learn using 3D dental equipment. Any trained dental practitioner can learn and work with the equipment quite easily.

  10. Low cost

    Compared to visiting an imaging centre for the sole purpose of getting a 3D medical CT scan, having a CBCT imaging device in-house eliminates the extra cost of going to a third party for diagnosis.

How 3D Dental Scanning works

During 3D dental imaging, the CBCT machines start by scanning the lower half of your face to create an image of your mouth, using a series of tiny radiation beams that produce a unique digital image each. The C-arm goes a complete 360-degree rotation around your head, allowing the detector to capture 100 to 600+ high-resolution 2-Dimensional images.

The series of 2D images are gathered, compiled, and used to reconstruct a 3-dimensional model that can be used for dental treatment planning. The reconstruction time varies depending on several factors, including:

  • Hardware parameters such as processing speed, data throughput from image capture to software activation
  • Software and the reconstruction algorithms used
  • Acquisition parameters such as the number of projections taken etc.

The reconstruction process takes about three minutes to calibrate, offset, and correct defect pixels for optimal visualization. The simplicity of this process compared to conventional CT results in cost savings of up to 80%, plus you won’t need to visit a third party for the CT scan if your dentist has the CBCT equipment so that you can start your treatment sooner.

While 3D imaging can be used to show angles and features of the oral cavity that cannot be obtained with 2D X-ray scans for simple diagnostics, it is useful for producing a complete 3D model of the teeth and skull for use in comparative data and complex diagnostics for:

  • Surgical planning of impacted teeth
  • Precise placement of dental implants
  • Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
  • Assessment of the jaw, nasal cavity, sinuses, and nerve canals
  • Evaluating the bone structure and tooth orientation
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Pinpointing the origin of pain or pathology
  • Detecting, measuring, and treating jaw tumours
  • Cephalometric analysis

Dental Treatment with Confidence

With cone-beam CT diagnostic images, nothing is hidden from your dentist’s view, which dramatically increases the accuracy of both diagnosis and treatment. As a patient, you will be able to view a complete picture of your jaw, oral, and dental areas, and better understand the treatment plan and any directions given by your dentist to promote long-term recovery.

To learn more about 3D Dental X-Rays, call Roots on Whyte Dental at 780 438 2612 or contact us here.

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