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3-D dental imaging takes traditional dental imaging to the next level—or more accurately, the next dimension! With 3-D x-rays, dentists can view the structures of your mouth, face & head from nearly infinite perspectives & in amazingly fine detail. Whether you’re just starting treatment or evaluating the results of a procedure, 3-D imaging can be a very valuable tool in your dental health. 

Unlike traditional x-rays, the 3-D imaging system can create either a 2-D or 3-D image & includes scans of your tissues in addition to bones & teeth. Your dentist can zoom in on the scan, rotate it & view it at any angle & even look through the scans at different depths. We can visualize your teeth, roots, gums, bones, nerves & airways & how all of these structures relate to each other. 

3-D dental imaging is sometimes referred to as cone beam CT scanning, which is the technology that makes the scan possible. The name “cone beam” comes from the cone shape of the invisible x-ray beam that the scanner emits. By sending out the beam at different angles, the machine forms an image of your head from many different perspectives, which are compiled to create a complete 3-D representation.

Types of 3-D Imaging

Because 3-D x-ray machines can generate a large variety of image types, the images can be used for a variety of different treatments & situations. It has applications in endodontics (root canals), oral surgery, orthodontics, prosthodontics, sleep apnea, TMJ disorders & more. With these images, we can see how your teeth relate to each other in terms of alignment, making it easier to create detailed treatment plans for straightening or replacing teeth. 

The Benefits of 3-D Imaging

Getting a 3-D dental scan is completely painless, takes only a few minutes & requires no preparation beforehand. The cone beam CT scanner is mounted on an arm that rotates around your head while you stand or sit under it. You will be asked to place your chin on a special platform & the entire scanner can be raised or lowered to a height that is comfortable for you. Your only task during the scan is to hold as still as possible & the scan usually lasts less than half a minute!

Dental cone beam CT machines also emit less radiation than traditional CT scans & film x-rays, so your exposure is brief & minimal. Plus, the 3-D x-ray scanner creates a 3-D image instantaneously, meaning there’s no waiting for film to develop. The fact that the images are digital also makes it very easy to share your scans with any specialist dentists who might be involved in your care. 3-D scans are a great tool for your dental health!

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