A dental CT (computed tomography) scan is a diagnostic test which obtains three dimensional images of the jawbone, the sinus cavity, and the nerves in the general area. This non-invasive procedure results in dentists and dental surgeons the getting clear, cross-sectional views of the jawbone and oral cavity which is crucial in the planning of a dental implant treatment. The precise images help take the guesswork out of implant placement, making the entire treatment a much safer and more accurate procedure.
Prior to the actual placement of the dental implants, there are several factors that need to be carefully assessed to ensure the overall success and safety of the treatment. These factors include:
Location and proximity of the sinus cavity in the upper jaw
Location and proximity of the nerves in the lower jaw
Images obtained by a dental CT scan provide more valuable and precise information compared to the two dimensional images obtained through panoramic X-rays, which just shows the shape and height of the jawbone. These two dimensional views are limited, and may not produce the detailed information needed for the safe placement of dental implants. The X-ray images may also give out an unclear view of where the nerves on the lower jaw area are located, which may put the patient at a greater risk for nerve damage.
Dental CT scan images, on the other hand, produce clear views of the density and width of the jawbone, as well as the precise location of the interior alveolar nerve (the nerve responsible for the feeling on the chin and lower lip areas). The knowledge of the exact location of the alveolar nerve greatly minimises the risk of nerve damage, making the implant placement a lot safer for the patient. A nerve repositioning procedure will be done if the nerve needs to be shifted to prevent damage and harm during the placement of the dental implants.
Through the three-dimensional images, the dental surgeon will be able to determine the suitability of a patient for an implant treatment. As the patients jawbone anatomy is analysed in greater detail, it will be much easier to plan where the implants will need to be placed in specific areas of the jawbone. The size of the dental implant to be placed into the jawbone will also be easier to determine with the help of dental CT scan images.