Because of technological advancement in dentistry, diagnosing, and treating various oral and dental health abnormalities has become easy to detect for the dentist. Through technological advancement, we are able to offer patients better services. Diagnosing a patient's dental illness or extent of tooth damage is not easy to see with the naked eye. To avoid this limitation, a dentist may recommend a CT-scan to generate 3D images of your mouth, including the teeth, jawbone, gums, nerves, and other soft tissues of your mouth to identify precise areas of infection for appropriate treatment.

Suppose a dentist feels a CT-scan is necessary for diagnosing and treating your dental and oral health issues. In that case, you should cooperate because it's for your good and the process is quick. You can rely on The Downey Dentist services for all of your oral and dental health wherever you are in Downey and surrounding regions. We incorporate modern technology where necessary to provide you outstanding services.

What is a CT-Scan in Dentistry?

A computed tomography scan (CT-scan) is special non-invasive equipment that allows a dentist to take 3D pictures of your mouth during diagnosis and treatment of various dental and oral health issues where facial x-rays are insufficient. Unlike a standard x-ray, a CT scan allows a dentist to diagnose the dental problems below the gum surface using 3D images, which provide clear and precise details of infection areas.

When a dentist is undertaking complex treatment procedures like a dental implant, he/she will want to know the condition and the structure of the underlying gum, jawbone, or teeth, and that is where the need for a CT scan arises. CT-scan equipment produces a cone-shaped beam of x-ray which moves around your skull, capturing 3D images of your mouth and facial area, including the nasal cavity and jawbone, within less than forty seconds.

Since the adoption of CT-scans in dentistry, diagnosis, and treatment of most dental health issues has become easy and accurate because a dentist can quickly identify infection areas after interpreting these 3D images. Therefore, a dentist can serve more patients daily and deliver quality services for their specific dental health issues.

To ensure the best and satisfying services to our patients, we use holistic approaches to diagnose and treat various dental issues. Make sure you contact a dentist like The Downey Dentist if you’re looking forward to a comfortable and effective dental health diagnosis and treatment.

Dental CT-Scan Preparation

Luckily, if your dentist finds the need for a CT-Scan during your first appointment at his/her clinic, you will undertake very little preparation before the dental CT-scan. If you consent to undertake a CT-scan to precisely examine your dental and oral health. In that case, your dentist will request you to remove anything that might hinder the accuracy of the images, for example:

  • Dentures
  • Necklaces
  • Hair clips
  • Eyeglasses
  • Earrings and nose studs
  • Hearing aids

To minimize any risk associated with using this technology, pregnant women should inform their dentist before a CT-scan to consider other alternatives or modifications of the scan. Also, if you've had a CT-scan in the past or any different type of radiotherapy, it's wise for you to inform your dentist because frequent radiation exposure might be harmful to your health.

Since a dentist can control CT-scanner radiation during the examination, the risk of a patient developing cancerous cells afterward is minimal, making this equipment a safer alternative for dental illness diagnosis and treatment planning.

Common Uses of a Dental CT-Scan

There are many reasons why a dentist would recommend a CT-scan when you visit his/her clinic with dental or oral health issues. Typically, a dental CT-scan will be vital during:

Diagnosis of Dental Health Issues

When other diagnostic procedures like an x-ray are insufficient to precisely examine your underlying dental health issues for an appropriate treatment procedure, your dentist will recommend a CT-scan. A CT-scan will be helpful in the diagnosis of the following types of dental and oral health conditions/illness:

  1. Abscess/Infection

Typically, if you have an abscess or an infection in your mouth area, you will experience severe pain that you will want your dentist to do anything he/she can to get rid of the infection/abscess. An abscess or pus in your tooth or jawbone is usually due to bacterial infection after untreated cavities, old dental work, or injury.

When you leave a tooth with abscess undrained or untreated, the infection causing the abscess will spread to other parts of your mouth, making the infection severe. Therefore, to identify the specific area with abscess or extent of infection-causing pain, your dentist will recommend a CT-scan.

CT-scan images help a dentist examine the extent of bacterial infection accurately for an appropriate treatment procedure. If you have a dental abscess due to bacterial infection, the dentist may recommend any of the following treatment procedures:

  • Draining of the abscess – After knowing the abscess's precise location, the dentist will make a tiny cut into the abscess to drain out the pus and clean the area with saline to prevent further bacterial infection.
  • Root canal – A root canal procedure might save your tooth if the infection has spread to the canal or pulp area of the root. A root canal involves removing the dead or infected pulp and nerves in the root canal to prevent future microbial invasion. The dentist will fill and seal the root canal after cleaning it. Signs and symptoms that you may need a root canal include a hole on the tooth, gum swelling, toothache, and temperature sensitivity.
  • Extraction of the infected tooth/teeth – If the dentist cannot save your tooth/teeth through any of the above treatment procedures, he/she will recommend the extraction of the infected tooth/teeth. Extraction or pulling out the infected tooth/teeth effectively eliminates the abscess and the bacterial infection.
  • Antibiotic prescription – An antibiotic prescription prevents the spread of bacterial infection to the adjacent teeth. A dentist will recommend you take antibiotics if the microbial infection is limited to the area with abscess.
  1. Cracked or Fractured Tooth

Although you may not experience any pain after suffering a tooth crack or fracture, it is advisable to seek a dentist's services as soon as possible because you might never know the extent of the tooth crack or fracture without an examination. When you consult your prospective dentist about a fractured or cracked tooth, your dentist may need a CT scan to accurately determine the extent of the damage if x-ray information is not precise.

If the dentist interprets the CT-scan images and finds out that the pulp in your root canal is dead, a root canal treatment procedure will be necessary to save your tooth. However, if the crack did not extend to the pulp chamber, your dentist will recommend a crown's placement. A dental crown will bring back your smile's aesthetic appearance and enable you to chew again because it looks and functions like a natural tooth.

  1. Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth come when a tooth or teeth fails to erupt or grow above the gum surface. People usually experience impacted teeth due to a lack of space in the jaw bone to hold the extra teeth. The most common teeth likely to be affected are adult wisdom teeth, which usually erupt last in individuals of between seventeen to twenty-one years.

The main issue with wisdom teeth is the lack of space for an eruption, which causes pain and damage to the adjacent teeth. However, sometimes they can erupt and position themselves correctly without interference with your bite alignment. Although there are no specific symptoms for impacted teeth, the following signs would indicate the presence of impacted teeth issues:

  • Damage to adjacent molars
  • Gum disease
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Jaw pain or swelling
  • Bleeding or swollen gums at the back of your mouth

To determine if there is a growth of impacted teeth or other factors causing the above symptoms, your dentist will recommend a precise diagnostic procedure like a CT-scan. CT scanner produces 3D images that reveal the presence of impacted teeth and the extent of the damage on the adjacent teeth and bone structure for accurate treatment.

Suppose the CT scan images show the presence of impacted teeth. In that case, your dentist will recommend removing the affected teeth, whether they are in position or not, to prevent possible future complications. Dentists are aware of potential complications that can arise if you fail to remove impacted wisdom teeth like gum disease and decay. Therefore, when we recommend the extraction of the impacted wisdom teeth, it is to your benefit.

Planning Dental or Oral Treatment Procedures

Apart from diagnosis of dental and oral health abnormalities, a dentist may need 3D images from a CT-scanner when making a treatment plan for particular complex surgical and dental procedures like:

  1. Dental Implant and Crown Placement

A dental implant is a sophisticated and effective permanent remedy for missing teeth. Typically, a dental implant is a titanium or metal screw that a dentist inserts and cement into the jawbone to be the root of an artificial tooth (dental crown). A dental implant is essential to prevent jawbone loss after losing a tooth due to decay, root canal failure, mouth trauma, or gum disease.

Dental implant placement is a surgical procedure that requires precision and accuracy when fitting the implant into your jawbone. Before a dentist undertakes a dental implant surgery, he/she will need a CT-scan of your mouth area with a missing tooth to determine the nature and structure of your jawbone to ensure it's strong enough to hold the implant.

Suppose CT-scan images reveal the insufficiency of the jawbone to hold a dental implant. In that case, other additional treatment procedures like bone grafting will be helpful to make your jawbone strong enough before an implant. We understand a dental implant is a dreadful procedure, but with anesthesia and other sedation methods like nitrogen oxide, this process should be smooth and comfortable.

After a dental implant, the surgery site may take six to nine months to heal entirely before the placement of your custom-made white artificial teeth. A permanent artificial tooth looks and functions just like your original teeth. Therefore, you can confidently smile again without anyone noticing you've got an artificial tooth or a dental implant.

  1. Jaw Reconstruction

Jawbone reconstruction, also known as orthognathic surgery, is corrective surgery for straightening misaligned jaws, which could be as a result of:

  • Facial injury
  • Gene inheritance
  • Arthritis of jaw joints

Suppose you incur a jaw misalignment after an accident with much impact on your facial area. In that case, you should consult with your dentist for orthognathic surgery to correct the irregularities to enhance your facial appearance and comfort. An orthognathic surgery would be essential if you are experiencing the following conditions:

  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Chronic jaw (TMJ) pain
  • Protruding jaw
  • Face or jaw trauma
  • Involuntary mouth breathing
  • Speech impairment

Since an orthognathic surgery involves the correction of a jaw structure, a dentist must figure out the area with the irregularity before commencing with the treatment. Fortunately, with modern-day dentistry equipment like the CT-scanner, we can point out the exact location causing the abnormality using clear 3D images of the jaw for appropriate treatment action.

During jaw reconstruction, the dentist will also do some teeth alignment to match your new jawbone shape for improved chewing and smile appearance. After the procedure, you will experience a little pain and some swelling, but it's normal. Modern dentistry tools and technology reduces the recovery period after orthognathic surgery.

Benefits of Using CT-scans in Dentistry

It may seem like there aren't any changes in the dentistry field to a casual person, but that is untrue. Technology in this field keeps advancing every day to make dental and oral health diagnosis efficient, effective, and comfortable to a patient. The use of CT-scans for dental health diagnoses where an x-ray is insufficient has revolutionized how the doctor used to look at dental infections and abnormalities. Here are the benefits of using CT-scans in Dentistry:

  1. You Have a Clear Visual Impression of What the Dentist Sees

Within less than 10 seconds, a dentist can capture clear 3D images of the area with the infection or abnormality in your mouth for close examination and treatment planning. A dental CT-scan makes it easy for dentists to collaborate with their patients when discussing dental and oral health issues. A dentist can rotate and enlarge a CT scan imaging of your mouth in a touch screen computer to better understand your oral health issues and possible treatment methods.

  1. It Reveals Everything in Your Mouth

If your dentist chooses to use a CT-scan to diagnose your dental health issues, you should know it’s for your best because it reveals everything in your mouth. That means a dentist can discover other potential dental and oral health issues early, for example, precancerous cells or tumors.

A CT-scan captures every part of your mouth from different angles and views to enable the dentist to have a clear understanding of your dental and oral health problems. If you plan to have a complete evaluation of your mouth, it's most likely a dentist will require CT-scans.

  1. It is a Quick Process

Typically, a full mouth CT scan takes less than forty minutes, meaning a scan targeting a specific part of your mouth will take less time. At Downey Dentist, we understand the risks of being under radiation. Therefore, we ensure a CT-scan takes the shortest time possible without compromising its effectiveness.

  1. Controlled Radiation

Because a dentist can control CT-scanner radiation depending on your oral or dental health issue, the chances of developing cancerous cells after the scan are very minimal. Furthermore, the process is quick, and the number of scans you can receive is minimal.

  1. Precise and Accurate Impressions

Within a few seconds, a dentist can obtain a full-color and accurate digital impression of your teeth and jaw structure to prepare dental crowns, bridges, bite-guards, and implants that match your teeth' shape and size.

  1. Bone and Soft Image Tissue

In contrast to a normal x-ray, a CT-scan is more effective in terms of image quality. A normal x-ray scan can capture the jawbone and teeth' images, but it cannot provide precise details of your teeth, bones, and other soft tissues of your mouth. In one CT-scan image, we can have a greater view of every part of your mouth to notice other potential oral health issues like tumors, which is easily manageable at an early stage.

Bottom Line

Technological advancement in the dentistry field is about making diagnosis and treatment of various dental health issues efficient, effective, and comfortable to a patient. Modern dentistry equipment like a CT-scanner makes it possible for a dentist to solve your dental health issue within a day to save your time.

Contact a Dentist Near Me

Suppose you are experiencing strange abnormalities in your mouth. If that is the case, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible for a CT-scan to examine the cause of the abnormality in clear and precise 3D images. We invite you to contact The Downey Dentist at 562-746-0350 for accurate examination and treatment of your dental and oral health issues using the latest technology in this field.

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