Innovative Cone Beam Scanner Provides Valuable Service

We have been using the cone beam scanner for a number of years and it has been an unbelievable adjunct in terms of basic diagnosis and aiding in surgery. The ability to virtually perform procedures such as dental implants as well as looking “into” and around structures such as third molar teeth or the jaw structures in orthognathic surgery. The pictures and the ability to manipulate the structures on the computer screen provide a great teaching instrument to help patients understand treatment needs and treatment plans.

The virtual placement of dental implants using the scanner software includes specific brand and size variations so that we know specifically what can fit into a site and what the proper angulation, position, and trajectory is for best prosthetic treatment. One of the benefits as we look at a scan of a region is a detailed assessment on the adjacent teeth including possible dental concerns. One of the more common things that I note is the decreased density of tooth structure on teeth that otherwise appear in good condition. This at least gives us an anticipation of problems and possible need for additional care such as fluoride treatments.

The cone beam scanner has eight types of scans which are four sizes ranging from a single site scan to a quadrant, to an arch, to a full face scan and then two levels of resolution. Alike to a digital camera, the highest resolution is gained from the smallest field. The single site scan gives a high level of detail for an individual tooth which is particularly useful for looking at individual tooth fractures or trauma. The manipulation and slicing of images is quite incredible.

One area that has been particularly helpful for an oral surgeon is with lesions. We are now able to see considerable detail about the extent of lesions and involvement of adjacent teeth and bone. The vital structures including the teeth, sinus, and neurovascular bundles are visualized in three dimensional space letting you enter into the site virtually and plan a treatment before you have ever made an incision. Again, in terms of patient education it can be a very helpful instrument.

One of the joys of dentistry is the constant improvement and innovation with materials and methods. The cone beam scanner certainly helps us in the way we practice, but it provides valuable improvement in our patient’s lives through the services that we deliver.