Dental CT Scan: Importance and What to Expect

The images from a dental CT scan are very important in planning an implant treatment. The appropriate treatment plan can more accurately and more effectively be formed with the help of the clear images from a dental CT scan; the suitability of a patient for the implant treatment can also be determined with ease with these precise images. Patient safety is even more increased with the 3D images, since the dentist will have a clear view of where the implants will need to be placed precisely.

Images taken with conventional dental x-rays are two-dimensional, and only give an idea of the number and location of the teeth, as well as the height of the jawbone. However, the images obtained with dental x-rays can be distorted and do not provide a clear picture of the jawbone quality and thickness.

Dental CT scan images, on the other hand, give a very accurate, 3D picture of the thickness, quality, and structure of the jawbone. These distortion-free images help determine if a patient can successfully have a dental implant treatment – or if advanced treatments, such as bone grafting, are needed before the implants can be placed. The three-dimensional images eliminate unwanted surprises with regards to the treatment, and can translate to reduced costs as unnecessary treatment steps can be foregone. The treatment period may be shortened without the additional (unnecessary) steps, with the help of the highly-accurate 3D CT scan images.

What to Expect from a Dental CT Scan
There are no special preparations that a patient needs before undergoing a dental CT scan. The patient will only be requested to remove all metal objects in and around the head, neck and jaw area; these items may include:

Jewelry (necklace, earrings, nose rings, or other facial jewelry/piercings)
Hair accessories or hair clips/hair pins
Eyeglasses
Hearing aids
Removable dentures or removable dental bridge

The metal objects need to be removed from the head, neck, or jaw area because they can negatively affect the dental CT scan images. Instead of being precise and clear-cut, the images can have streaks when metal is near the scanned areas, causing the images to be distorted.

The dental CT scan is done while a patient is sitting down or standing up. The head is comfortably held in place with a cushioned cradle, which also helps prevent unnecessary and unexpected head movements while the scans are being taken. The bed will move through the dental CT scanner so that the 3D images can be taken. In cases when images of the open jaws are needed, the patient may be requested to wear a mouthpiece for a few seconds, while the three-dimensional images are taken.

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