Why CBCT (Cone Beam CT Scan) is a Must for Patients Receiving Dental Implants, Oral Surgery, Orthodontic, and Endodontic Treatments

The quality and quantity of bone surrounding teeth and anatomy of the underlying jaw bone can be quite variable. In some patients they are abundant and thick (i.e. thick biotype) while in others they can be extremely thin (i.e. thin biotype). Gum tissue often masks the true anatomy of the bone hence giving the impression that there is thick bone while it is quite the opposite. This variation can impact the treatment outcome in patients receiving dental implants, oral surgery, orthodontic, and endodontic treatments. Dental implant and orthodontic treatments are particularly risky in patients with thin tissue biotype and if not diagnosed can lead to significant complications. Hence, a cone beam CT scan (CBCT) is considered a must for all patients undergoing such treatments.

Here is a CBCT on a patient demonstrating severe ridge undercuts and extremely thin bone biotype. Any teeth extractions without site grafting will lead to severe bone loss.  Placement of dental implants in such a patient without diagnostic aid of a CBCT will most likely lead to poor position, inadequate bone coverage, and ultimately failure. Similarly, any teeth movement during orthodontic treatment in such a patient can lead to significant bone and gum tissue recession and compromise in the final outcome.

The benefits of 3-d cone beam CT scan (CBCT) in dentistry has been extensively studied and reported. It is critical for clinicians to obtain this very valuable diagnostic imaging for all patients undergoing such treatments and avoid irreversible complications that will compromise the well-being of patients. CBCT has proven to be an important diagnostic imaging tool in dental implant therapy, oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics, and oral pathology. It is relatively inexpensive and widely available at most specialty and general dentistry offices and has significant less patient radiation than the hospital grade CT scans.

Dr. H. Ryan Kazemi is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Bethesda, MD