Radiology is an important tool in diagnosing and assessing dental abnormalities in patients. It is especially helpful in treating patients with problems in the dentomaxillofacial region. Cone Beam CT Scan Imaging, also known as CBCT, is considered an important innovation in dental X-ray diagnostics, particularly for dentomaxillofacial surgery. Unlike regular X-rays, CBCT scans can differentiate among many types of tissue including bone, teeth, and nerves.

At our practice, Dr. Gonzalez seeks to stay on the cutting edge of dental technology. One of the most exciting changes in dentistry is the addition of 3D imaging; we call it 3D dentistry. Three-dimensional dentistry uses cone-beam computer tomography equipment to create 3D renditions of the patient’s mouth and skull.

These are particularly useful when planning various procedures, such as the placement of dental implants.

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What is 3D dentistry?

Compared with traditional two-dimensional x-rays, 3D dental imaging uses cone-beam computer tomography (CBCT) to provide 3D renditions of the entire mouth, jaw, and lower skull. To create these images, our I-Cat 3D system takes a series of images and uses the system software to merge them to create a 3D image of the targeted areas. These are so detailed that they give Dr. Gonzalez the highest amount of information possible to diagnose problems and plan treatments.


What are the advantages of using 3D dental imaging?

Dr. Gonzalez is a big believer in staying at the forefront of dental technology at our Santa Rosa practice — everything from CEREC same-day crowns to panoramic x-rays to I-Cat 3D imaging — because of the benefits this focus provides for our patients.

When compared to traditional x-rays, our 3D capability provides a number of advantages for Dr. Gonzalez and our patients:

  • Highly detailed — With just a single I-Cat scan, Dr. Gonzalez can see much more detail than with two-dimensional x-rays. The image shows pathology, musculature, nerves, infections, and much more. This allows Dr. Gonzalez to properly plan for extractions, implant placement, and root canals.
  • Better diagnostic accuracy — When two-dimensional x-rays were the only available technology, many problems could not be seen. This is because 2D scans cannot differentiate between different types of tissue, but 3D scans do. Our I-Cat scans allow Dr. Gonzalez to visualize and identify the pathology, infections, joint dysfunctions, and abnormal sinus anatomy for accurate diagnoses and treatment planning.
  • Limited radiation — Cone beam scans require significantly less radiation compared to traditional film x-rays, plus the energy is focused on a much smaller area, reducing radiation even more. 
  • Bone quality evaluation — These 3D scans allow Dr. Gonzalez to assess the quality of underlying bone tissue, which is crucial for planning the placement of dental implants. He can assess the patient’s bone mass, and he can then ensure his placement will have sufficient bone to support the implant base.
  • Non-intrusive — Unlike bite-wing x-rays, where the patient has to awkwardly bite down on the intra-oral sensor, 3D scans take images of the entire head while the patient simply rests his or her head on a headrest and keeps still. No action is necessary on the patient’s part.
  • Interactive options — Because these 3D scans can be rotated, magnified, and annotated, Dr. Gonzalez can use them to explain the problems and the possible treatments to the patient.

Benefits of CBCT

 

CBCT has several advantages over traditional scanning which include the following:

 

High Resolution and 3-D imaging – This enables subtle structures like root canals or the periodontal ligament to be clearly displayed.

Lower Radiation Exposure – CBCT uses significantly lower radiation than traditional CT scans and has a lower rate of image disturbance caused by metallic structures.

Duplicate Imaging – CBCT provides images of both bone and soft tissue at the same time.


What is a CBCT commonly used for?

 

Cone Beam CT Scanning is commonly used in surgical planning for displaced or impacted teeth and for pre- and post-operative imaging for surgery. CBCT is also effective in diagnosing or assisting in the treatment of the following:

  • Dental implant placement
  • Cleft-palate malformations
  • Bone and tooth fractures
  • Maxillary sinus examination
  • Diagnosis of jaw conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ
  • Detection, measurement, and treatment of jaw tumors
  • Location of the origin of pain

CBCT is an effective tool in assisting dentists with various diagnoses and treatments. Depending on a patient’s particular condition, a dentist will decide whether the use of a CBCT is appropriate.


Is 3D dental imaging safe?

Our I-Cat 3D cone beam imaging uses more radiation than our digital two-dimensional x-rays, but the radiation delivered is very precisely targeted. Plus, the detail and quality of the images preclude having to do more than a single scan for most patients. The information gained far outweighs the small amount of radiation used.


How is a 3D dental scan created?

For your I-Cat scan, you sit in a chair in front of the system. Your chin is placed in a cup-shaped somewhat like a sports chin guard. Behind your head, a padded rest keeps your head still from the backside. Because the system takes a series of images that will be combined into a 3D image, it’s critical for the patient to remain perfectly still, and the I-Cat set up guarantees this.

We then start the scan. The I-Cat system takes between 20 and 40 seconds for a complete head scan. It takes less than 10 seconds if only a specific area is targeted for examination. That’s the entire patient process. From there, the I-Cat system takes about three minutes to combine the images and create the final 3D scan.


Are 3D dental scans covered by dental insurance?

Although this is a new technology for dental practices, 3D imaging is fast becoming more important for accurate diagnostics and treatment planning. As a result, more and more insurance carriers are recognizing 3D dental imaging as necessary and valuable and are providing reimbursement.

As you know, however, our health system has great variability between insurance companies. So, if you have questions about possible coverage, you should contact your carrier prior to having the I-Cat scan done.

We work with your insurance company to gain as much coverage as is possible.


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Dr. Darren Gonzalez uses advanced i-Cat® 3D cone beam imaging to gain a more comprehensive understanding of your oral health and plan more effective treatments. Cone beam technology is especially helpful in planning implant placement and other oral surgery procedures. Contact us at 707-542-1532 for more information about i-Cat cone beam imaging in Santa Rosa, California, and to make an appointment with our dentist.