The traditional dental bitewing X-ray proves adequate for simple imaging tasks, such as identifying cavities. However, contemporary dentistry is so much more than just fillings, and dental cone beam computed tomography, or CBCT, creates high-resolution, three-dimensional images suitable for more complex dental procedures. Dr. Kathy Zahedi, of Kathy Zahedi, DDS & Associates of Santa Monica, California, uses CBCT imaging when regular X-rays aren’t enough. Call or book an appointment online today for leading-edge dental treatment.
CBCT is a specialized X-ray system that creates three-dimensional images of your lower face, including details of teeth, jaw bones, and soft tissue. Using a special scanner that rotates around your head in a single pass, the CBCT takes multiple images which are then combined through computer processing to build the detailed 3-D view of your entire craniofacial region or the portion of it that’s needed for the dental work you’re undergoing.
CBCT isn’t the same technology as conventional CT scans, though the images that result have a similar level of detail. CBCT equipment is much smaller than CT scanners, and it’s able to fit into dental offices in much the same way as conventional dental X-ray machines.
CBCT imaging is ideal for situations where the structures of the mouth and the range of tissues interact, such as when planning orthodontic care as an example. Other complex dental procedures also benefit from the intimate and accurate detail that CBCT imaging provides. These procedures include:
CBCT may also be used for purposes that aren’t dental in nature, such as for evaluation of the sinus and nasal cavities, or for detecting and treating tumors of the jaw. Facial reconstruction surgery may also benefit from the detailed, 3-D images that CBCT provides.
The process is quite similar to typical dental X-rays, different only in that the CBCT imager moves around your head as it collects images to compile into the final 3-D form. Complete scans take about 40 seconds, or less if you require only a partial scan.
As with regular X-rays, there’s no sensation as the images are made. There’s no special preparation necessary, apart from removing any metal objects, including glasses, hearing aids, and jewelry. You can return to your regular day after the procedure.
Women who may be pregnant should inform Dr. Zahedi before any X-ray session, conventional or CBCT. Because of the number of component images made during a CBCT scan, you will be exposed to more radiation than compared with conventional X-rays.