Computer tomography in dentistry

Computer tomography in dentistry

Modern dentistry relies on imaging means to be able to make concrete diagnoses without endangering the patient’s health and without further interpretation.

Imaging, in whatever form, is non-invasive for the patient, provides results in a very short time and guides the dentist in therapeutic management.

Nowadays most, if not all dentists who want to carry out correct treatment rely on X-rays or other imaging tests.

An apparent health condition or a case that seems simple at first may hide other asymptomatic conditions that can be detected by imaging examinations.

Computed tomography is an increasingly common investigation in dentistry because it has a number of qualities that are far superior to traditional panoramic X-rays:

  • The details seen on CT are much clearer so that in borderline situations, it is easier to distinguish between possible diagnoses.

  • 3D reconstructions can be made in order to get an overview of the jaws and dental arches. In this way, the dentist can obtain a positioning of the arches to make his work much easier.

  • The CT can also be used to calculate certain indexes, which are useful in alveolar and periodontal surgery.

Computed tomography can be recommended in any situation, as it can show details that are missed by conventional X-rays. However, CT is of choice when the surgeon wishes to insert dental implants. Pre-operatively, CT scanning helps to establish the treatment plan. On a preoperative CT the following parameters can be examined:

  • complete examination of the oral cavity – soft tissues, bone and teeth as a whole can be assessed with great accuracy. This narrows down the treatment options, depending on local conditions, until the optimal option is achieved.

  • bone size measurement – available bone can be measured in height, width and thickness following a CT scan. The dentist can also determine whether the available bone is satisfactory in terms of quantity and quality or whether it needs to be increased.

  • anatomical relationships with other structures of major interest – this concerns the nerves, in particular the inferior alveolar nerve, prior to the insertion of implants in the lateral mandibular region. To be sure that the implant will not be inserted into the canal where the nerve is located, based on the measurements the size can be chosen

  • determining the insertion axis of the implant – based on the CT examination, the appropriate angulation of the implant is chosen to fit properly and integrate into the conformation of the dental arches.

Once the pre-operative consultation is completed, the risks are assessed and then the practical part of implant insertion is carried out. Postoperatively, the progress and integration of the implant into the bone can be monitored by simply performing another CT scan.

A dental CT scan is not complicated at all, the procedure takes less than a minute and the amount of radiation is much less than a traditional CT scan.

Because of its obvious advantages and the fact that it is beneficial in diagnosing pathologies, CT examination is considered the investigation of choice in many clinical situations.

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