It’s hard to keep up with all the new technological breakthroughs that have so significantly impacted our day to day life. This can be especially true in dentistry. The advances that have been made in recent years are simply incredible. Here at Southern Arizona Endodontics, we embrace technologies that truly enhance the dental experience of our patients. One of those recent breakthroughs, now available at SAE, is Cone Beam 3D Imaging technology, also known as Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT).
What is Cone Beam 3D Imaging?
Cone Beam 3D Imaging is a medical imaging technique that provides 3D images rather than the two dimensional images produced by conventional dental radiographs. The added clarity and dimension of the 3D imagery significantly enhances our ability to see in undistorted detail the positioning and spatial relations of the teeth, jaw bone and vital structures such as sinuses and large nerve bundles. Cone Beam 3D imaging also provides cross section views of teeth not possible using conventional two dimensional x-rays. 3D imagery is an integration of medical CT scan technology with dental panoramic imaging. In cone beam 3D imaging, the machine is sending the X-rays in a divergent cone-shape. To visualize this, think of the cone setting of your garden hose sprayer. The stream of water starts from one point and fans out into a cone shape as opposed to a single jet of water. A sensor on the opposite side collects the imaging data. Complex computer algorithms then construct a three dimensional image from the data collected. A 3D image, and its corresponding cross sectional slices, can be viewed on a computer monitor.There is really a wow factor when comparing the 3D images with 2D images.
What Can the Patient Expect?
For the patient, obtaining the 3D images will seem similar to having panoramic x-rays taken where thescanner rotates around the head. The actual scan takes approximately 15 seconds and requires little to no special preparation. The machine is open and does not feel uncomfortably enclosed. There is no pain or discomfort for the patient undergoing a CBCT scan. We will ask if there’s a possibility you are pregnant and will encourage you to wear loose, comfortable clothing and remove any jewelry. Metal objects, eyeglasses and hairpins may affect the images and should be removed prior to your scan. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work.
Is SAE Replacing All Conventional X-Rays with 3D Imagery?
No. We will continue to use conventional digital x-rays as the initial step in your examination and as we decide on a plan of action for your endodontic care. Only in certain cases where regular dental or facial x-rays are not sufficient will your endodontist recommend follow up with 3D imagery.
Radiation doses from 3D imagery exams are typically lower than medical CT exams (which cover a wider area), but typically deliver more radiation than conventional dental X-rays. Therefore, 3D imagery is not used in first level exams, but in cases where further clarification beyond two dimensional x-rays is justified.
Are CBCT Scans Expensive? Will my insurance cover it?
The CBCT scan fee is quite reasonable, especially when compared to the cost of a medical CAT scan. Most dental insurance companies do not cover CBCT scans. However, as a courtesy to our patients, our SAE staff would be happy to submit a claim to your insurance company.