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CT Scans for Dental Implants: What They Are and Why You Need Them

By drparr on February 14, 2018


Few innovations in dentistry have improved the accuracy of diagnoses like CT scans. For several decades, two-dimensional x-rays were the mainstay of dental radiology. As technology has improved over the years, we have enjoyed the benefits of cutting-edge modernizations such as cone beam computed tomography. At The Smile Center in Virginia Beach, VA, we take CT scans for dental implants so we can provide our patients with the most accurate, precise treatment available.

doctor reviewing panoramic dental x-ray on his desktop computer

What Can a CT Scan Do?

In contrast to a two-dimensional x-ray, a CT scan delivers a 3-D image of the oral and maxillofacial structures. The doctor or clinician can manipulate the image according to the unique needs of the case and visualize the anatomy with unparalleled accuracy. A dental CT scan can:

  • Provide accurate measurements
  • Help the doctor evaluate bone health and density
  • Identify the presence of atrophy or disease
  • Demonstrate actual jaw size
  • Provide a high-quality image with minimal radiation exposure

As you can see, CT scans can be quite indispensable when it comes to placing dental implants. Patients considering implants must have strong, healthy, dense jawbone, and there must be enough of it to completely surround the post. A CT scan can easily provide this crucial information.

Diagnostic Imaging during the Implant Treatment Phases

A substantial amount of treatment planning is necessary before and during dental implant placement. CT scans are a vital part of this process. For example, during your initial consultation, your doctor may take a CT scan to determine the height and width of the jawbone and to establish the optimal locations for your new implants. For complex cases, your surgeon can even use the CT scan to perform a “virtual surgery” before the first incision is ever made. By doing so, he or she will already know exactly where the implant should be placed for long-term success.

After your implant surgery is complete, you will probably require a few months of healing before your final restoration can be placed. During this time, the surrounding bone will fuse to the implant in a process known as osseointegration. When enough time has passed, another CT scan may be taken to determine if the healing phase is complete.

What Can Happen without Appropriate Diagnostic Imaging?

Before the advent of digital diagnostic imaging, there was a lot of guesswork involved in implant dentistry. CT scans eliminate all of that. Implants placed in the lower jaw must not interfere with the mandibular nerves. Otherwise, permanent paresthesia can occur. Implants placed in the upper jaw must be an appropriate distance away from the maxillary sinuses. Otherwise, the posts could puncture the sinus membrane. CT scans can help ensure that the implants will be placed in a proper position surrounded by adequate bone structure.

Conservative, Comprehensive Care

At The Smile Center, patient safety is our priority. That is why we use digital imaging, which emits 90 percent less radiation than traditional x-ray machines. We believe that comprehensive dental care can also be conservative. Therefore, we will never take x-rays or scans unless they are necessary for proper treatment.

Learn More about CT Scans and Diagnostic Imaging

If you would like to learn more about CT scans for dental implants or for any other procedure, reach out to a team member. You can contact us online anytime or call our office at (757) 473-8482.

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