At the time of their discovery, traditional two-dimensional X-ray renderings were a marvel of science and remained a primary method of medical imaging for over a century. However, you are likely among the many people who have been shown an X-ray of your mouth without achieving a true understanding of what the issue actually was. As monumental a discovery as it was, 2D X-ray imaging left a lot to be desired. While trained medical professionals are able to identify complications in these images, doing so is much more difficult for the average dental patient. What’s more, even the best dentist can experience difficulty parsing the flat, murky images yielded by a traditional X-ray machine.

Fortunately, medical technology has made great strides since the birth of 2D X-rays and has been able to create an imaging system that better serves both dentists and patients: Three-dimensional imaging. With recent innovations like cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), dentists are able to conjure a crystal-clear 3D representation of a patient’s head and mouth that can be viewed from any angle or zoom level using sophisticated technology. 3D imaging has taken the dental world by storm, and when patients choose a practice that employs this technology, they are likely to benefit from better dental results.

Better Image Quality

3D imaging generates a representation far superior to traditional 2D images because of how it works. Instead of scanning from a single viewpoint, 3D systems like CBCT scanners take hundreds of image “slices” which are stacked on top of each other to create a detailed image that can be rotated or zoomed in on to give patients a better understanding of their issue. A cavity that might appear as a hazy dot on an old-fashioned X-ray can now be viewed clearly and fully by both the dentist and the patient. This helps doctors make better diagnoses and catch potential problems much earlier, while patients are finally able to understand just exactly what is happening in their mouth. This helps them make better-informed decisions about the dental treatment they choose to pursue.

A Better Experience

3D imaging can not only improve treatment results, but it can also improve a person’s experience at the dental office. 3D scans take much less time than traditional X-rays, which means patients can enjoy shorter appointments and less time spent in the waiting room. With systems like CBCT, the actual scan is much more comfortable too; most machines allow them to sit in a chair or stool while the scanner quickly rotates around their head. There is also no need to don a heavy lead apron that has been worn by countless other patients. This is because 3D technology has minimized the amount of radiation they are exposed to, making the process not only more comfortable but safer as well.

3D imaging technology is truly remarkable, and more and more dentists have begun replacing their traditional 2D systems in order to provide better treatment and a more pleasant experience for patients. However, many practices have yet to adopt this technology, so those looking for a new dentist should be sure to ask if a potential office uses 3D scans.

3D digital images help to supplement 2D radiographs because they allow dentists to diagnose and see things that are hidden due to the limited views of the 2D X-rays. Digital 2D X-rays help detect cavities and bone levels while 3D X-rays allow them to see everything in lifelike detail for more accurate diagnoses and less invasive surgeries. This combination creates better treatment and a better experience for the patient.

If you have more questions about 3D dental technology or would like to experience it for yourself, contact Great Boca Smiles online or call our office at (561) 221-2045.