This weekend my wife and I are travelling to a training session by Sirona Dental for our 3D imaging system we acquired over a year ago. I have been absolutely amazed at the accuracy with which we can place dental implants using the new imaging modality. Unfortunately, just 10 years ago when I was in dental school, very little was taught about reading or interpreting CT images, so I am still learning more about what the technology can do for my patients. Cone Beam CT (CBCT) machines, as they are called, is without a doubt the future of radiology in dentistry.
The uses of CBCT are growing every year. Our primary objective in acquiring our Sirona 3D machine was to gain the ability to more precisely place dental implants. Dental implants are a passion of mine, and we strive for perfection. Traditional two dimensional X-rays have two main problems. First, there is an approximately 20% distortion rate. This means when we try to measure the amount of bone available to determine if we can place an implant, and if so what size implant, there is an inherent error of 20%. Sometimes this error can be the difference between not being to place an implant, or much worse miscalculating the available bone causing implant failure or harm to other structures. Second, because the image is three dimensional it allows us to determine all dimensions of the bone. Unlike traditional X-rays, with a 3D image there are no surprises when we start the surgery.
Today CBCT is also gaining a lot of popularity for use in performing endodontic therapy, or root canals. One of the biggest challenges in root canals is finding the numerous microscopic nerve canals which, if left untreated, can cause lingering pain and/or root canal failure. 3D imaging allows us to find those canals and significantly decrease postoperative problems with endodontically treated teeth. Another increasingly common use of the CBCT is for treatment of TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction, more commonly known as TMJ. In TMD, usually there is a problem with the condylar disc in the jaw joint. The CBCT is excellent in evaluating the health of this disc as well as the other surrounding hard and soft tissues.
I am excited to learn more about how this machine can improve our dental office and allow us to help more people.
Robert M. Davis, DDS, FICOI
Robert M. Davis, D.D.S & Associates