Many have heard of CT scans for full body procedures being done, but not everyone may have known that they can also be used for teeth. To be more specific, some CT scanners can be used for root canals in endodontic treatments. Today’s contemporary endodontic treatments have changed much of the traditional practices of dentistry and advancements in equipment are shifting how an endodontist determines a patient’s root canal condition and treatment. For those not as familiar, CT scans produce an accurate high quality detailed 3D X-ray image. The images deliver incredible features of the tooth’s structure and consist of the surrounding tissue conditions as well as the jaw’s bone structure. Below, we detail more about what CT scans are used for and why they can be so beneficial to our patients.

What is a CT Scan for Teeth?

CBCT (Cone beam computed tomography) is a medical imaging technique where the X-rays are divergent, forming a cone. CBCT has become increasingly important in treatment planning and diagnosis in implant dentistry, ENT, orthopedics, and interventional radiology, among other medical procedures. The beam’s rotating technique captures the surrounding and middle areas of the tooth and helps determine the exact treatment needed for the tooth’s condition. Medical practices use both CT to view bone structures combined with MRI to see blood vessels and soft tissue. CBCT has combined both of these viewing forms to display the tooth’s physical traits.

What Will a CT Scan Show?

Today’s CT scans are critical in determining the proper treatment and the details are aiding to foresee future conditions based on the tooth’s structure. For some patients with curved roots or complicated canals, additional precautions may be required to ensure proper treatment. These images are helping to identify other conditions that may affect the healing process or preventing previous root canal treatments from working as some patients continue to have infections or problems even after proper root canal therapy.

These pictures help to identify:

  • Canal perforations and broken instruments
  • Existing problems with prior root canal treatments
  • Entire structure of each root including the nerve helps to eliminate any surprises for the treating endodontist
  • Detecting the tooth’s current condition
  • Helpful insight into potential problems

Benefits of CT Scanning for Teeth

This incredible technique of CBCT is making it easier for practitioners to detect problems and prescribe more effective treatment with the common goal of ensuring full healing in the short and long-term root canal treatments.

CBCT is a faster and safer version of the regular x-ray with the use of a cone-shaped X-ray beam reducing the time needed for scanning. A full scan for patients takes under one minute, reducing overall anxiety and discomfort. The radiation dose is also one hundred times less compared to a regular scanner and is safe and effective for basic oral treatments, especially for such a delicate section of the body.

One of the most intriguing benefits we see in the medical field is that 3-D scans now offer practitioners the ability to collect much more data with a single scan. The CBCT provides endodontists with a full view of the tooth’s condition and captures less distinct dental conditions contributing to the patient’s oral health. We’ve seen it noted that canals that were left untreated by previous dentists may have been concealed causing root canal infections.

In some instances, teeth or structures outside of the endodontic field of practice may also need attention. For this reason, the 3-D X-ray detail is so inclusive that the images can be shared with other practitioners, thus reducing the need for the patient to undergo multiple scans for each practitioner. That’s a major cost-saving for the patient and less exposure to radiation. More importantly, the collaborations provide accurate information about past and current dental care. It’s a better method of monitoring treatment results and provides a clear and accurate re-treatment scheduling when needed.

If CT scanning is something you as a patient would like to know more about and would like to have used in your treatment here at Endodontic Specialists, be sure to contact our team today. We would love to explain more about our services and schedule an appointment!