3D imaging, also called cone beam CT scanning, is an advanced dental x-ray that produces 3D images of your teeth using less radiation than traditional x-rays. As such, 3D imaging is more advanced, allows more accurate diagnostics, and is safer.

Sapphire Smiles is an advanced Houston dental clinic where we use the latest cutting-edge technologies for diagnosis and treatment of dental problems. Please continue reading to learn more about cone beam CT scanning at Sapphire Smiles.

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Introduction to 3D Imaging, aka Cone Beam CT Scanning

3D imaging is often called cone beam CT scanning, named after the technology that facilitates the procedure. “Cone beam” refers to the conical shape of the x-ray beam that the scanner releases. By sending out the x-ray beam from various angles, it forms an accurate image of your head from different angles, thus producing a 3D representation of your head.

Unlike traditional x-rays, 3D imaging creates both 2D and 3D scans along with scans of your soft tissues rather than just your bones and teeth. Furthermore, since the image is produced on a computer, the dentist can zoom, rotate, or view the image from different angles, allowing them to focus on problem areas to identify the smallest anomalies in your teeth, bones, gums, airways, and other dental structures.

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Our 3D imaging machine allows us to get X-Rays from various angles while using less radiation than traditional X-Rays. Schedule your dental appointment today.

Benefits of 3D Imaging

  • 3D imaging produces far better image quality than traditional x-rays.
  • With most x-rays, the dentist would need to take the x-ray from various angles to get a complete picture. However, with cone beam CT scanning, you only need one scan for a complete picture from different angles.
  • The dentist can manipulate the image, zooming and rotating at will, to gain a better impression.
  • 3D imaging provides a far more accurate picture than traditional x-rays, allowing dentists to curate the ideal treatments.
  • 3D imaging can be used for various purposes, including root canals, orthodontics, sleep apnea treatments, oral surgery, and much more.
  • The procedure is painless and noninvasive.
  • It can produce an image of the bone structure and soft tissues.
  • CT imaging doesn’t leave any radiation in the patient’s body.
  • There are no side effects or complications.
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3D Imaging Procedure

3D imaging is a completely painless and simple procedure that concludes within a few minutes with no preparation necessary. The cone beam CT scanner is attached to an arm that moves around your head as you stand or sit. You have to place your chin on a designated area while the dentist will raise or lower the scanner to a comfortable height. Once the dentist activates the scanner, you have to hold as still as possible for accurate results. However, since the scan concludes in less than half a minute, holding still shouldn’t be an issue.

Some of the dental x-rays, such as bitewing x-rays, need you to bite down on a sensor. 3D imaging doesn’t require that you bite down on a sensor, but you may have to bite down on a small disposable tab. However, this is merely done to ensure alignment and not for any sensory purposes. Your face needs to be perfectly aligned and centered on the CT scanner for an accurate image. Your dentist may also use a brace or a strap to hold your head still during the scan. The dentist or another team member may also be there to hold your head still, if necessary.

3D imaging provides our dentist with more accurate images than tradition X-Rays. Book your appointment online!

3D Imaging Q&As

What is 3D imaging used for?

The following is an overview of some of the most common use cases of 3D imaging:

  • Detection of orthodontic issues.
  • Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
  • Examining an impacted tooth for optimal surgical planning.
  • Examination of jawbone structure for dental implants.
  • Accurately placing dental implants.
  • Examination of the sinuses, nasal cavity, and nerve canals.
  • Identifying and treating tumors.
  • Examining tooth orientation.
  • Identifying the root cause of pain.
  • Surgical procedures for tooth replacement or reconstruction.

How should I prepare for cone beam CT scanning?

There’s no special preparation required for cone beam CT scanning. Your dentist may ask you to remove some of the objects and accessories that may obstruct the results of the scan, such as glasses, pins, jewelry, etc. If you wear dental appliances, such as braces, your dentist may have to remove them. However, that’s something the dentist will decide during your consultation.

What happens after the 3D imaging procedure?

The 3D imaging procedure is completely painless and noninvasive — you don’t feel anything. You can resume your daily activities immediately after the procedure and wait for the results. Your dentist will examine the results and communicate them with you.

What does the CT scanner device look like?

The cone beam CT scanner is a square-shaped device that may come with a chair or a table on which you can sit or lie down during the procedure. The CT scanners with chairs also include a rotating arm and an x-ray image intensifier. The CT scanners with tables also include a rotating gantry.

Do you want to learn more about 3D Imaging? Ask us!

Contact our Houston Dental Clinic Today

Sapphire Smiles is a state-of-the-art dental clinic in Houston Heights equipped with the latest and safest dental technologies. We use the latest diagnostic technologies, such as intraoral cameras, digital x-rays, and called cone beam CT scanning to diagnose dental problems at the earliest stage, allowing us to preemptively treat diseases. For more information, please schedule an appointment with our Houston dental clinic today.