CT Scan and 3D Imaging

Physicians have relied on computerized axial tomography scans (CT Scans), for many years.  CT 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 CT 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 the bone structure, bone density, tissues and nerves can be viewed clearly.

CT Scans can be completed in about 90 seconds.  This means that far less radiation enters the body than if a regular set of bitewing x-rays were taken.  The main use for CT Scans is as an aid to plan dental implant treatment and other oral surgery.

Dental implants are the most sophisticated replacement for missing teeth.  CT Scans can be used to greatly increase the precision and predictability of dental implant treatment. 

How are CT Scans used?

CT Scans are advantageous because they allow the dentist to magnify specific areas of the mouth.  In addition, the dentist can easily view cross-sectional “slices” of the jaw, which makes planning treatment easier and more precise.

Here are some of the main ways in which CT 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 exact orientation and position of each tooth.
  • View impacted teeth.

CT Scan use in Implant Surgery

By placing markers, an "imaging stent", within the patient's mouth at the time of 3D scanning, the proper angulation and alignment of the implant can be evaluated in relation to other sturctures of the mouth (nerves, sinus cavity, teeth, bone quantity, and even the opposing teeth).  Once we have the 3D data, a rigid "surgical guide" can be created to translate what is seen digitally, to the patient's mouth.  By doing this, we ensure accurate placement of the dental implant, which will greatly enhance the function, esthetics, and maintenance of the implant for years to come. 

How are CT Scans performed?

CT Scans are quick and simple to perform.  A Cone Beam Imaging System is at the heart of the CT scanner.  During the scan, the patient sits stationary on a designated seat.  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 CT scanner is comfortable because they remain in a sitting position at all times.  Additionally, the scanner provides an open environment, meaning that claustrophobic feelings are eliminated.  The CT 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 the use of CT Scans or 3D imaging for dental implants in Dallas, Texas, please contact us at or call 214-890-7777.


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