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What Is 3-D Imaging?

The difference between a traditional X-ray and a 3-D image is like the difference between a square and a cube: one is flat, and the other gives a full, 360-degree view. The computerized tomography (CT) scan catapulted the medical field into the future when it gave surgeons the ability to view cross-sections of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues. 

In the same way, 3-D imaging now allows dentists to access your mouth, skull, jaw, nerves, gums, and roots without limits. At Centerport Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, in Portland, Oregon, we’ve adopted 3-D imaging as our gold standard for safe, accurate, and efficient dental care, and practices across the nation are beginning to do the same. 

This new technology allows us to see your mouth in a way that was never possible through traditional X-rays alone, which enables us to detect problems sooner and be more precise with our procedures. To help you better understand the advantages of 3-D digital imaging, our highly experienced dentist Benjamin C. Wang, DMD, explains the technology, the process, and the many benefits.

The science behind 3-D imaging in dentistry

Like the medical CT scan, 3-D imaging in dentistry relies on computerized tomography to obtain multiple X-ray images from various angles. But our technology goes a step further and concentrates the X-ray into a cone shape that is more precise than the fan-shaped ray used on other body parts.

The cone-beam computerized tomography (CBCT) is delivered through a machine with a rotating arm that can scan your head in a complete circle or target one specific tooth, depending on the area of concern. One side of the machine contains the X-ray source, and the other side is an X-ray detector; together they enable Dr. Wang to capture 150-200 images in about 20 seconds.

Those images are transferred to Dr. Wang’s chairside computer where software transforms them into a full-scale, three-dimensional model of your teeth and skull. Dr. Wang can easily interact with the image and move it in endless directions and positions to view your mouth from every imaginable angle.

Advantages of 3-D dental imaging

The reason we use 3-D imaging here at Centerport Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry is because we believe it’s the best way to serve and care for our patients. Here are some of the benefits of this new technology:

Less radiation exposure than a CT scan

Radiation exposure comes with some health risks, so keeping it to a minimum is important. Compared to the medical CT scanner, our dental CBCT uses far less radiation, and the cone-shaped beam can target a very precise location, so you don’t get unnecessary exposure where you don’t need it.

More comfortable than old-school X-rays

For many years, dental X-rays have required you to bite down on an uncomfortable plastic sensor, as the technician scurries out of the room to activate the machine, then scurries back in to take the sensor out of your mouth.

With CBCT, you sit comfortably in your chair with your chin on a stable rest, and the machine rotates around you. No more awkward positions or painful sensors digging into your gums.

More accurate

Our 3-D CBCT images clearly show the difference between all types of tissues in your mouth, including bones, blood vessels, and nerves, so we can see exactly where they’re located in relation to one another — something traditional 2-D X-rays can’t do. 

This helps us view any abnormalities in your anatomy or dysfunctions, including sinus issues, nerve damage, decay, and infections we wouldn’t be able to detect without this technology.

Early detection

By allowing us to see more of what’s going on inside your mouth and below the surface, and to see it with more accuracy, we can detect potential problems at their earliest stages of development and treat them before they cause irreversible damage. This saves you time, pain, and money.

Enhances other treatments

Because the 3-D image allows us to view the inner workings of your oral anatomy, we can streamline your treatments, such as root canals, wisdom tooth extractions, dental implants, and crowns. This technology lets us see into your teeth before the procedure begins, so there’s no need for exploration and no surprises during your treatment.

Dr. Wang and our team care deeply about your oral health and strive to earn your trust with every visit and treatment. We believe this CBCT technology allows us to provide you the absolute best care possible. If you’d like to learn more about how 3-D imaging can change your dental experience, call our office or book an appointment online today. We are also offering free initial video consultations with Dr. Wang; just ask us for details.

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