The Role of 3D X-Rays and Imaging in Dentistry: How Your Dentist Uses This Technology

Posted on: 15 July 2016

Orthodontists and dentists alike have begun to use 3D ultrasonography and imaging to capture x-rays of patients' jaws and teeth. This provides dentists in all areas of oral and dental care with real-time insight into the potential problems patients may have in the future as well as the problems the patients currently have. For more information on how these images are taken and used in your dental and orthodontic treatments, the following is provided.

Special Digital Cameras

Many of the images the dental assistant takes of your teeth, throat, profile, and mouth are taken with a camera that looks like most other digital cameras. The difference here is that the camera has some special lenses attached and that it is plugged into an imaging machine and computer. As the assistant takes the photographs, he or she makes adjustments to the lenses and the software on the computer so that the images taken become 3D images of your skull, soft tissue, and bone structures and even provide a rudimentary digital examination of your airway and esophagus. All of these images are processed according to pre-programmed software choices and then saved to your patient file for your dentist or orthodontist to view later.

How the Images Are Used by Your Dentist/Orthodontist

These images are very different from a standard x-ray or panorama x-ray (which scans the whole of your mouth from one side to the other and presents it in one straight, flat view of your teeth and gums). Instead, your dentist or orthodontist gets a real-time view of all of your current teeth, teeth that are trapped under other teeth, and teeth that have not erupted through your gums as well as any canines or incisors that are currently rooted up in your sinuses and have not come down yet. These images will also show any abnormalities of the teeth, such as breaks, big cavities, chips, and additional teeth that just should not be present at all.

After viewing these images, your dentist or orthodontist then creates a custom treatment plan. He or she will move teeth out of the way, repair teeth, pull teeth, replace teeth, and remove any abnormal teeth (e.g., teeth growing out of the roof of your mouth, extra canines trapped in your sinuses, etc.) as appropriate. These treatment plans will be carried out and assessed for changes every so many months until another set of 3D images and ultrasonography show that your mouth is healthy and in the most normal condition possible.

Find a dentist in your area so that you can have your semiannual cleaning and checkup.