Dental x-ray technology quickly became an invaluable tool for diagnostics when it was introduced a century ago. It soon became routine for dentists to use x-ray technology to diagnose and plan the best treatment for patients. One of the greatest leaps forward has been the introduction of three-dimensional technology, also called cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). Cone beam technology gives the dentist highly detailed three-dimensional views of the teeth and facial skeleton, offering unique benefits compared to other traditional two-dimensional views of hard tissues.

Cone Beam Technology Results in Clear, Detailed Images

In the past, dentists were limited to 2D scans that made it difficult to accurately diagnose orthodontic issues and plan treatment. The cone beam scanner quickly produces a 3-D image of the patient’s jaw and teeth in amazing clarity. A CBCT scanner moves around the patient’s head to record hundreds of x-ray views in less than a minute. These images are then processed to create a three-dimensional, interactive model that can be manipulated to visualize the entire jaw, a jaw joint, or down to a single root canal inside a tooth. By scanning anatomical structures with greater clarity and less distortion, cone beam scanners allow for a more accurate diagnosis and easier treatment for patients.

Eliminates the Need for Traditional Impressions

Cone beam computed tomography produces a very high-resolution, 3-D image that accurately displays soft tissue and bone. Because this technology shows every surface and angle, including biting surfaces, it can be used to make 3-D models, eliminating the need for traditional impressions.

Cone Beam X-Rays Improve Diagnosis

With greater detail and clarity, cone beam technology allows the dentist to more reliably and quickly identify damage, assess teeth, check healing, and plan treatment. The 3-D image produced by this technology is incredibly helpful in planning orthodontic treatment, evaluating jaw joints, placing dental implants, assess the cleft palate, visualize abnormal teeth, finding root canals, and diagnosing everything from tumors and cysts to infection at an earlier stage. Cone beam scanners are especially beneficial in checking jaw symmetry, finding the precise location of roots and nerves, accurately placing dental implants, and checking for bone defects in TMJ disorder.

Reduced Radiation Exposure

Cone beam x-ray technology emits a cone-shaped x-ray beam that takes hundreds of images that are then compiled into a single image with a scan time of 5 to 40 seconds. CT scanners, on the other hand, emit a fan-shaped x-ray beam that can expose the patient to up to ten times more radiation than a CBCT scan. A single CBCT scan usually delivers a radiation dose that is about equal to that of a standard 20-film digital full-mouth series of x-rays.

The amount of radiation exposure depends on the settings on the CBCT machine, as most have settings that improve the quality of the image and the size of the image produced. When more anatomical structures must bee seen in greater detail, the radiation dose can be higher. Depending on the settings, a cone beam x-ray scan can deliver less radiation or close to the amount as a 20-film full-mouth series of x-rays.

Safer Digital Storage

CBCT technology projects a cone-shape beam of x-rays to take multiple images that are then digitally compiled into a 3-D image. Once the beam has finished scanning, the information is safely stored in a computer, where it can be reformatted into many different views, depending on what the dentist wants to examine. The original scan can be duplicated at any time, allowing other specialists to view the images with no risk that the film will be lost.

Many dentists today choose use cone beam technology for superior x-ray results and easier, faster diagnosis and treatment. TLC Dentistry is proud to be a leading source for advanced cone beam x-ray technology in the Salinas area, offering patients state-of-the-art technology for safer, faster, and more effective treatment options.