Why Did My Dentist Recommend a 3D CT Scan?
If your dentist ordered a CT scan, you may be wondering why this advanced form of scanning was necessary. In most instances, a dental condition can be diagnosed with a conventional bitewing X-ray or a full-mouth set of X-rays. But, then again, there are those situations where a dentist needs to view oral structures that are not so apparent in two-dimensional radiographs.
CG Smile in Miami uses advanced technologies, including 3D CT scans to provide comprehensive dental care. Having the right technologies enables us to diagnose conditions accurately, greatly improving treatment prognoses.
What is a Dental CT Scan?
“CT” is an acronym for computerized tomography. CT scans produce three-dimensional images that are viewable on a computer monitor. This allows the dentist to examine layers of your jawbone, teeth, and other features. CT scans can even be used to create 3D-printed models of your teeth and jawbone!
How are CT scans different from traditional X-rays?Traditional X-rays produce two-dimensional (flat) images. These are often sufficient in diagnosing problems related to hard tissues (tooth and bone). But, many soft tissue features are essentially averaged out and are not clearly visible in a 2D radiograph. When a dentist needs to get a detailed, three-dimensional view of nerves, root canals, blood vessels, or other soft tissue structures they will often recommend a 3D CT scan.
CT scans have become an invaluable tool for dentists. By knowing the exact location of an injury or infection, dentists are now able to precisely diagnose issues, thus enabling them to conduct targeted treatments.
How Does a 3D CT Scan Work?
3D CT scans are an advanced form of dental X-ray that is in use at CG Smile and other dental offices. Instead of taking multiple radiographs of an area, a 3D CT scan can create a highly detailed three-dimensional image of the teeth, jawbone, and gums. The dentist can rotate, zoom in, and explore various layers of hard and soft tissues. Dental CT scans can detect abnormalities as small as half a millimeter.
Situations Where a 3D CT Scan May Be Used
CT scans are primarily used in diagnosing soft tissue abnormalities and viewing the insides of teeth and jawbones. If you are undergoing bone grafting in anticipation of a dental implant, the dentist will likely perform a CT scan to get an inside look at the structure and density of your mandible or maxilla. Another scenario would be a patient who may have a complication from endodontic surgery. Prior to drilling the tooth or performing an additional root canal treatment, the dentist may use a CT scan to diagnose the patient’s post-surgical complication.
Are CT Scans Covered by Insurance?
All types of X-rays, including CT scans, are ordered on a "medically necessary" basis. While most dental insurance plans cover this type of radiograph, it's always a good idea to check with your provider's "limitations and exclusions" and "evidence of coverage" policies before consenting to a CT scan.
How Do I Prepare for this Type of X-ray?
Dental CT scans are fast and do not require any special planning on the part of the patient. If you are wearing glasses, earrings, or other types of jewelry, you may be asked to remove these before the scan.
Are Dental CT Scans Safe?
Dental CT scans do work with higher doses of radiation than other types of dental X-rays, but the radiation exposure is less than other forms of CT scans. Since patients are most susceptible to radiation during their early years, dental CT scans are typically reserved for adults.