Like many of you my family and I have been to the local theater to see the much anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. And also, like many of you, we debated in advance whether to see the movie in 3-D or 2-D.
While 3-D at the movie theater has the potential to enhance your viewing pleasure, 3-D in the medical world can mean the difference between success and failure.
It was November of 1895 when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen used his newly discovered mysterious “x-rays” to create an image of the bones within his wife Anna Bertha’s hand. Across the 125 years since that first x-ray picture, the x-radiation related diagnostic and treatment options available to medical professionals has exploded.
Throughout my entire dental career I’ve relied upon x-ray images to diagnose tooth decay, quantify bone loss due to periodontal disease, and check on the status of impacted wisdom teeth. In recent years however, it is becoming increasingly apparent just how limiting our 2-D x-ray images have been.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is a relatively recent x-ray imaging technique in which 3-D image layers or slices/tomographs are computer generated through use of a diverging cone of x-rays.
During pain-related dental emergencies traditional 2-D x-ray images quite often fail to reveal the source of the pain. In many cases a CBCT analysis of the afflicted region fully reveals the precise source of the patient’s pain allowing for properly targeted treatment to be completed in a timely manner.
Use of the CBCT technology also comes in very handy when we are planning for the placement of dental implants to replace missing teeth. Traditional 2-D dental x-ray images may show the height and width of a potential dental implant site, but they fail to provide any input regarding the depth of the dental jaw bone from the cheek to the tongue side. Cone Beam Tomography provides for precise 3-D analysis of dental implant sites allowing for dentists to accurately assess the suitability of a site without surgically opening an area for investigation. As a result implant placement surgery can be planned and completed in a safer, more reliable fashion.
Just as we opted for the 3-D option when we went to see the latest chapter in the resurrected “Star Wars” saga, I’ve also decided that sometime during the first half of this new year, we will be adding the CBCT technology to the equipment at my disposal at my dental office. This is a resolution that will make life better and safer for both me and my patients.