Few technological advances in dentistry have been as influential as the innovation of cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT). Similar to a medical CT unit found in a hospital, a CBCT is essentially a 3-dimensional x-ray that can be used for improved diagnosis and treatment. While 2-dimensional x-rays have long been the standard, 3-dimensional imaging has significantly improved upon what was previously possible. The best news is that with new Cone-Beam CT technology, an image can safely be produced with no more radiation than a few traditional dental x rays. Having a CBCT scan prior to your next root canal may mean the difference between success and failure of the treatment.
When a normal dental x-ray is taken, all of the anatomical structures in the image must compress into a single 2-dimensional picture. The angulation and overlap of structures within the image causes a distortion which leads to a difficulty in interpretation of the image. Studies by Goldman et al. have shown that dentists will disagree on the findings in an x-ray over 50% of the time. 3D Images are also critical in determining the presence of a crack or fracture in a tooth. Studies by Fayad et al. have shown that CBCT is significantly better at determining the presence, severity, and prognosis of a crack than 2-dimensional imaging. CBCT greatly reduces the error normally found interpreting standard 2-D images, leading to higher accuracy in the diagnosis.
In addition to assisting the diagnosis, CBCT images can also be used as a guide to plan and carry out complex root canal treatment and surgery. 3D images inherently have more detail than two dimensional radiographs and are better suited to show the complex anatomy of a root canal system. Using 3D imaging prior to a surgery is critical to avoiding damage to nerves and other vital anatomical structures. Treatment planned using a CBCT is more thorough, predictable, and generally more minimally invasive than standard treatment with 2-dimensional images.
Here at Dominion Endodontics, all of our providers are highly-trained endodontists. We use special equipment including 3D CT imaging, microscopes and ultrasonic instruments to achieve the best results for our patients. For our patients with dental anxiety, we also offer sedation for a more comfortable visit. If you are experiencing dental pain or infection, seek consultation with one of our specialists. Our three offices in Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church serve patients from all of Northern Virginia and the greater Washington DC area. Please call our office or book an appointment online today.