Dental Implants and 3D Imaging in Dentistry

CT Scan of Skull image courtesy Waldir

CT Scan of Skull
image courtesy Waldir

Since its introduction in the 1970s, CT Scan technology has been used to provide three dimensional images in medicine. A valuable supplement to xray and ultrasound technologies, it is used for preventive measures as well as diagnosing disease in areas such as the abdomen, lungs and head.

Most dental patients, however, would not expect to receive a CT Scan in their dentist’s office. This is partly due to the cost of the equipment. Yet, for dentists providing complete dental implant systems, this technology is extremely helpful. In fact, the dental implant is considered by some as the catalyst for bringing CT Technology into the dental office. According to Radiology, a monthly journal published by the Radiological Society of North America:

“What then, was the catalyst or motivating factor for the development of these programs? The catalyst was the dental implant.”

The journal explains:

“Dentists and oral surgeons were experiencing difficulty with the use of conventional radiographs to determine whether there was sufficient bone in the jaw to accommodate these implants. They also found it difficult to determine the exact location of the mandibular nerve and other important structures. As a result, dentists soon began to work with their colleagues in radiology, and a dental CT reformatting program was developed to resolve these issues.”

“Not only was a new method of evaluating the jaw developed, but also a new partnership was created between dentists and radiologists.”

While Dr Pagano has been successfully placing complete dental implant systems since 1999 with two dimensional imaging, the recent introduction of 3D imaging technology came about for two reasons. One is that patients increasingly favor implants over other tooth replacement options, such as dental bridges. So there is a higher demand. Second, because Artistic Dentistry provides all treatments involved in dental implant systems, it made sense to utilize the most updated technology.

One of the most important factors in determining implant success is proper treatment planning

The three dimensional image allows your dentist to see your bone density.  Why is that important? The success of dental implants is dependent on the quality of the bone into which they are placed. The dental CT Scan will reveal if you will need a bone graft.

Even though the percentage of nerve injury from dental implants is low, the three dimensional image reveals nerve tissue, and thus allows your dentist to avoid the nerves and sinus.  Although oral surgeons and dentists using traditional imaging are well within the standard of care, periodontists have been using CT Scans for years to avoid nerve injury.

Precise placement of your dental implant is important to ensuring longevity of use. Remember that the implant will replace your natural tooth roots and you want it to be secure enough to withstand the force of chewing. Dr Pagano began placing his own implants in 1999 so that he could control the outcome for his patients.

Additional advantages of 3D imaging include:

  • Provides greater chance for diagnosing conditions that can be missed on conventional x-rays;
  • Improves avoidance of unnecessary treatment.
  • Better diagnosis of wisdom teeth positioning to nerves and blood vessels; and
  • Enhances our ability to see what needs to be done before treatment is started.

Compared with the “medical” CT Scan, the dental CT Scan costs less and exposes the patient to far less radiation.

 

 

 

 

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