Sam* stepped into the machine. The people in the white coats assured him it would be OK.
As he waited, lights appeared on Sam’s face. The machine started to spin around him. Sam wondered what was happening. When the machine was finished, the white coats told Sam he could get up.This isn’t part of a scene in a science fiction movie. It’s something that happens at Sunrise Dental offices every day.The machine is a cone beam CT scanner, and it has proven to be an incredibly useful tool in diagnosing and treating problems for our patients.* Sam isn’t a real person, but many of our patients are scanned this way during their visits to our dentist offices in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and Chapel Hill.What Is A Cone Beam Scanner?Cone beam scanners are basically smaller versions of a CAT scan. In fact, cone beam scanners are based on the same technology that was used to develop CAT scans.The difference is that CAT scans can be used to examine your whole body, while our cone beam scanners are focused on your mouth and the surrounding structures.The cone beam machine takes hundreds of images of individual “slices” of your mouth. With computers, those individual images are combined to create three-dimensional models of your teeth, jaw, and other bones in your face.This gives us a greater understanding of the condition of your mouth than we can give with two-dimensional X-rays.Here are a few ways we use the cone beam images to help patients like you.Implant PlacementDental implant placement is a surgical procedure. We don’t often talk about it in that way, but it is a kind of surgery.Now, dentists can make educated guesses about the best possible placement locations for a dental implant. Many time this works out fine.However, we can take out a lot of that guesswork if we can get a better view of what is where inside your mouth.For instance, you have several nerves in your jaw. With a cone beam scanner, we can get a much better view of the shape, size and depth of your jaw. Knowing this, we are able to place dental implants where they will provide the most benefit (without causing pain) to patients like you.Identifying Alignment ProblemsAnother concern for many patients is tooth alignment.This may affect your bite, which can cause pain in your teeth or in your jaw. Specifically, it can cause pain in your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint.This joint is located close to your ears at the point where your mandible (the lower jaw) connects to your skull. This joint allows your mouth to open and close.If you have a TMJ problem, we can examine if the issue has something to do with the alignment of your teeth with one another.In other cases, your TMJ may be perfectly fine, but your tooth alignment is causing other problems with your smile. We can use the information collected with our cone beam scanner to help plan orthodontic care to straighten your teeth.Finding Other ProblemsCone beam images help us in a variety of ways.If your wisdom teeth are starting to erupt or become impacted, we may be able to spot the problem before it starts to cause you pain or increase your risk for gum infections.The three-dimensional model could also reveal tooth decay where it may not have been detected with the naked eye. These images may be invaluable in planning a root canal treatment.
They can reveal if you have suffered bone loss when compared to previous images.
Our cone beam scanner is just one of the ways we are incorporating technology into our treatment to help our patients receive the best care that we can provide.Better Dental CareThe dentists at the Sunrise Dental offices in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and Chapel Hill believe that our patients deserve the best care that we can provide. One of the ways we do this is through the use of proven technologies.But having the technology is one thing. Knowing how and why to use it is just as if not more important. This is why all our dentists take part in continuing education so they understand the practical applications of the technology that we have in our offices.If you would like to know more about our cone beam scanner the other technology we have in our practice, please make an appointment at the office closest to you.