When Should You Get a CT-Scan For Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

A CT-scan provides more detailed information about the position of wisdom teeth and their proximity to nerves and sinuses. While not indicated routinely for wisdom teeth, this type of image is helpful for patients who have severe or deeply impacted wisdom teeth and whose oral surgeon is concerned about proximity to nerves, sinuses, or cysts. Although rare, any irritation to the nerve that passes under the lower wisdom teeth, can lead to a period of numbness along the lip and chin area. In most cases, this condition is temporary and resolves gradually in six to eight weeks. Only in rare instances, it may become more prolonged or permanent. Recently, cone beam CT-scan (CBCT) machines have become more readily available in dental offices. With less cost and significantly less radiation, CT-scan is being used more often instead of a panoramic X-ray.

For Most patients, a panoramic X-ray is adequate for diagnostics. However, if your oral surgeon notices any of the following, then a CT scan may be appropriate to get:

  1. Deeply impacted wisdom teeth that seem to either lie on the nerve canal or cross it on regular X-ray
  2. When the outline of the nerve canal seems to be disrupted in the regular X-rays
  3. When the nerve canal seems to have a ‘step’ or ‘curve’ in its path at the junction of the wisdom teeth roots
  4. When there is an associated cyst or other forms of pathology

Download Dr. Kazemi’s free book on wisdom teeth for more information.