CAT® 3D Imaging

3D Digital Imaging for Dental Implants  



3D CBCT vs. 2D xray panorex

As you can see in the photo above, the photo on the left is a 3D CBCT, the photo on the right is a 2D panoramic x-ray which is the primary guide for a majority of dentists placing implants. The amount of information from the CBCT is essential to plan exactly where an implant needs to be placed, and the 2D x-ray simply cannot show as much detail. Many panoramic machines resemble a CBCT in appearance, but the proof is in the superior image a 3D CBCT will produce over the 2D xray.  

The first image is an implant placed by Dr. Choy using the 3D CBCT to evaluate width, height, and position of the implant prior to as well as during placement. The second image on the right shows the result of a poorly placed implant that was leaning too far in one direction, which could not be seen on a 2D xray, and resulted in an infection and abssess years later. 


3D Cone Beam Cat Scan (CBCT)

Physicians have relied on computerized axial tomography scans (CAT) for many years.  CAT scans are an X-ray procedure that uses many different X-ray images with the help of computers to generate cross-sectional or even 3D views of internal organs and structures within the body.  A knee replacement surgery, for example, would never be performed without first examining 3D imaging.

More recently, however, dentists have begun to rely on 3D imaging techniques and CAT® scans to provide them with a detailed view of the mouth and skull.  The advantage that 3D imaging holds over regular dental x-rays is that bone structure, bone density, tissues, and nerves can be viewed clearly.

CAT® scans can be completed in less than half a minute. The main use of CAT® scans is as an aid to plan dental implant treatment and other oral surgery. At Manoa Dental, we use a Cone Beam CT (CBCT) which much less radiation and only focuses or the oral cavity and nearby structures. 

Dental implants are the most sophisticated replacement for missing teeth but have historically proven to be time-consuming to place.  CAT® scans vastly reduce the time it takes to place implants and helps immensely with accuracy to locate good quality bone.

How are CAT® scans used?

CAT® scans are advantageous because they allow the dentist to magnify specific areas of the face.  In addition, Dr. Choy can easily view cross-sectional “slices” of the jaw, which makes planning treatment easier and faster.

Here are some of the main ways in which CAT® scans are used in dentistry:

  • Assess the quality of the jawbone where the implant will be placed.
  • Determine where nerves are located.
  • Diagnose tumors and disease in the early stages.
  • Measure the density of the jawbone where the implant will be placed.
  • Pinpoint the most effective placement for implants, including the angle of best fit.
  • Plan the complete surgical procedure in advance, from start to finish.
  • Precisely decide on the appropriate size and type of implants.
  • View the exact orientation and position of each tooth.
  • View impacted teeth.

 How are CAT® scans performed?

CAT® scans are quick and simple to perform.  A Cone Beam Imaging System is at the heart of the CAT® scanner. The cone beams are used to take literally hundreds of pictures of the face. These pictures are used to compile an exact 3D image of the inner mechanisms of the face and jaw.  The dentist is able to zoom in on specific areas and view them from alternate angles.

Previous patients report the CAT® scanner is comfortable and quick. The scanner provides an open environment, meaning that claustrophobic feelings are eliminated.  The CAT® scan is an incredible tool that is minimizing the cost of dental treatment, reducing treatment time, and enhancing the end results of dental surgery.

If you have questions or concerns about CAT® scans or 3D imaging, please contact our office.

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