3D Imaging: Cone Beam Computed Tomography

Cone beam computed tomography, or CBCT, is a type of 3D dental imaging. The images produced allow the dental professional to see the whole mouth including soft tissue for improved diagnostics. The imaging will also have its place in the patient’s electronic health record (EHR). It is gaining attention in the wider dental community thanks to Mark Setter, DDS, a private practice dentist who specializes in periodontics and is an advocate in the use of CBCT in general dentistry.

According to Dr. Setter:

“For some cases, the panoramic radiograph provides adequate diagnostic imaging. In cases where the examination shows periodontal disease, we commonly employ the use of CBCT to provide the advanced imaging we need to develop a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan” (2012).

The CBCT provides a more accurate picture of dental issues, and especially those involved with periodontal problems. The typical probing style of examination may not be as effective for diagnosing problems whereas the CBCT can give a definitive diagnosis. The use of the CBCT for routine or yearly type examinations is not always necessary.

“The decision to use CBCT is not a cookie-cutter decision, but rather based on the clinical features found in each examination. Often, CBCTs are needed in cases that may not appear to require 3D imaging at the onset of the exam. Not only does an in-office CBCT provide efficiency, but also the software to read, print, and distribute the images is more thoroughly used with an in-house CBCT.” (2012)

For those practices that prefer the in-house CBCT, the software should integrate or be compatible with existing systems. As part of the electronic health record (EHR), this imaging will play a crucial role in maintaining and monitoring a patient’s oral heath as well as assist in treatment planning and insurance processing. All of these efforts save time and improve patient safety.

Lessons learned:

• Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is 3-dimensional imaging for dental diagnostics.
• Usually used in periodontics, though spreading to the wider dental community.
• CBCT offers improvements in dental diagnosis.
• CBCT imaging software should integrate with existing technologies.
• Enhances use of EHR in documenting oral health issues.

Gane, D. (2012, May). 3D dentistry. Dental Economics, 102 (5); 88-91. Retrieved from http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/3d+Dentistry/1050535/0/article.html July 8, 2012.