Medical professionals discovered their value as diagnostic tools not long after the advent of x-rays in the early 20th century. They can reveal structures within the body without having to perform risky surgery. 21st century has a revolutionary new technology entering the diagnostic arena: Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), promising to change the diagnostic and treatment ways of dental problems.
Cone beam CT offers dentists the ability to visualize intricate structures inside the mouth, such as root canal and sinuses, without surgery in 3 dimensions. Although these have some similarities with conventional x-rays and CT scans, found in normal hospital settings, but it is also a leap forward in technological and diagnostic dental precision. Cone beam CT scans reduce the need for invasive procedures for the patient, shortens time for treatment, and improves the chances of a better outcome.
CBCT provides detailed diagnostic images, which makes it an essential tool in dental specialties. The medical benefits offered must be weighed against the potential risks of procedure, like any other diagnostic tool that requires radiation.
How Does CBCT Work?
X-rays are a form of energy on electromagnetic spectrum, like visible light. X-rays can form an image just as light makes an image on the photographic film. The difference, x-rays can reveal hidden structure by penetrating bone and soft tissue, at varying degrees of absorption. They form a grayscale picture of what lies beneath the surface. However, x-rays are limited, as they show only one perspective on the scene like a still-life picture.
Now, think of how animations are made: a series of still life images shot at slightly different angles, which when flipped through rapidly create a series showing a story from different perspectives. If you could now put together a series of c-ray slices like that, taken at different angles, an animation of the x-rays would be created. From there, 3D modeling is just a step ahead.
CBCT scanners use a rotating imaging device that moves around the patient's head. The scanner records several hundred x-rays views in a minute. A powerful computer is then used to process the information and create a virtual model of the area. The model when completed appears as a three dimensional image on a computer screen. It can be manipulated in any way, from rotating side by side to examining in less or greater detail- all without the discomfort or presence of patient!
Where Is Cone Beam CT Used?
CBCT provides invaluable support to treat many conditions in dentistry through its ability of providing fine anatomical 3-D structures.
Orthodontics: Accurate display information of teeth and jaw makes it easier to determine the exact location where teeth should be moved.
Dental Implants: The optimum location for titanium implants can be determined without affecting nerves, sinuses, and areas of low bone density by using detailed CBCT images.
Orthognathic Jaw Surgery and Temporo-Madibular Joint (TMJ) Disease: 3-D dimensional perspectives provided by CBCT benefit patients and specialists in evaluating the anatomy to better treat these conditions.
Oral Surgery: The level of detail shown by CBCT scans aid in treating tumors or impacted teeth.
Endodontics: Intricate procedures performed by dentists such as complex root canals, are aided with a clear visualization of the tooth's anatomy.
Sleep Apnea: The diagnosis and treatment of dangerous conditions can be aided with imaging the tissues and structures of the nose, mouth, and throat.
Can Cone Beam CT Benefit You?
Before performing any test, a patient's situation must be carefully considered by clinical professionals. CBCT delivers a smaller dose of radiation when compared to other diagnostic tests, but it is not without risk - especially for younger patients or those facing health problems. Like any medical procedure, all risks, benefits, and alternatives are considered before recommending this procedure.
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