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CT Imaging Technology Can Improve Outcomes for Complex Dental Problems

CTImagingTechnologyCanImproveOutcomesforComplexDentalProblems

The mouth is a crowded place with nerves, blood vessels and sinus cavities sharing common space with the teeth and gums. Although important in their own right, these structures can also hinder treatment for complex dental situations like dental implant surgery or impacted teeth.

Treating these and similar situations depends on getting an accurate depiction of “what lies beneath.” Conventional x-rays help, but their two-dimensional images don't always give the full picture. There's another way—cone beam computed tomography (CBCT).

Similar to CT scanning, CBCT uses x-ray energy to take hundreds of “sliced” images that are then re-assembled with special software to create a three-dimensional model viewable on a computer screen. CBCT is different, though, in that it employs a scanning device that revolves around a patient's head, which emits a cone-shaped beam of x-rays to capture the images.

A dentist can manipulate the resulting 3-D model on screen to study revealed oral structures from various angles to pinpoint potential obstacles like nerves or blood vessels. The detailed model may also aid in uncovering the underlying causes of a jaw joint disorder or sleep apnea.

CT technology isn't the only advanced imaging system used in healthcare. Another is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which excites hydrogen atoms in water molecules. This produces different vibration rates in individual tissue structures, which are then translated into detailed images of these structures. Unlike CT or CBCT, MRI doesn't use x-ray energy, but rather a magnetic field and radio waves to produce the atomic vibrations.

But while providing good detail of soft tissues, MRI imaging doesn't perform as well as CBCT with harder tissues like bone or teeth. As to the potential risks of CBCT involving x-ray radiation exposure, dentists follow much the same safety protocols as they do with conventional x-rays. As such, they utilize CBCT only when the benefits far outweigh the potential x-ray exposure risks.

And, CBCT won't be replacing conventional x-rays any time soon—the older technology is often the more practical diagnostic tool for less invasive dental situations. But when a situation requires the most detailed and comprehensive image possible, CBCT can make a big difference.

If you would like more information on advanced dental diagnostics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Getting the Full Picture With Cone Beam Dental Scans.”

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  • "a month ago
    Travis Watson was truly the most kind, compassionate, honest, and detail-oriented dentist that I have ever been to. I have had work done by at least a half dozen or more dentists over the years, and Dr. Watson was BY FAR the most compassionate, kind, and caring when it came to my procedure and dental work needs. I couldn't possibly recommend. Dr. Watson and Pinon Hills Dental any higher. Five stars isn't enough. Dr. Watson should get 10 stars. If there was a Nobel Prize for dentistry, Dr. Watson should win it--and many times over. If you're considering a dentist in the Farmington area--or beyond (I came from Durango)--Dr. Watson should be your choice. Beyond belief, you'll actually look forward going to the dentist. I'm forever grateful for Dr. Watson's skill, compassion, and kindness--and you will be too."
    Peter Barr- Google Dec 2020
  • "I visited Pinion Hills Dental for the first time yesterday to get a cleaning and check up. I have nothing but great things to say about the experience that I had and quality of service. I had a great interaction with everyone involved from the front desk, to the hygienist Yvette and Dr. Watson himself. Highly recommend!"
    Colby Gibson-Google Oct 2020
  • "The staff here are very friendly and accommodating. I was in a decent amount of pain so they moved my appointment up and kept me from hurting for an extra 5 days. Dr. Watson personally called me to check on me and make sure things we're ok. It means a lot that he didn't have an assistant or secretary make that call."
    Kev Sharp-GoogleNov2020
  • "Dr. Watson is absolutely incredible in every way! We have always been treated with the utmost respect, compassion and expertise. He has gone out of his way to treat our family in emergency situations. In each instant, he provided amazing and excellent care when other dentists could not. He is always positive and reassuring in all situations! His office staff, dental assistants and hygienists are incredible in every way! The atmosphere in the office is peaceful, positive and upbeat! We highly recommend Pinon Hills!!!"
    Angela McDaniels- GoogleDec2020
  • "The politeness and care of the dentist, dental hygienist and the staff wowed me today. Dr. Watson and Dr. Weber really have a vested interest in your teeth. They are very concerned to the point that I brush and floss so I won't let them down.
    You never feel belittled by anyone in the office and they only encourage you when you need to do a little better. I used to worry about going to the dentist but now I know I have people who want the best for me in the doctors office."
    Kevin Jaramillo