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If you’ve been seeing the dentist as regularly as you’re supposed to, chances are you’ve had an X-ray taken before. Traditional 2D X-rays are useful, of course; they can show areas of decay and bone loss that couldn’t be found just by looking. However, when it comes to planning surgeries or finding the source of the pain in your mouth, chances are your dentist prefers the precision of 3D X-rays in Memorial.

What Are 3D X-Rays?

3D X-rays are also sometimes referred to as cone beam 3D imaging, named because the X-ray beam is cone shaped (while traditional 2D X-rays use fan-shaped beams). The device rotates around your head in a complete 360-degree rotation while taking hundreds of pictures of the inside of your mouth. Once it’s complete, special software will combine these X-rays into a single three-dimensional image.

Unlike 2D X-rays that focus primarily on the teeth, 3D X-rays also lets the dentist examine soft tissues, nerve paths and bone in your craniofacial region; basically, the final image will give a complete view of your smile and everything surrounding it.

What Are 3D X-Rays Used For?

Because 3D X-rays are so detailed, they’re usually used when there’s a complex procedure that needs to be planned or if there’s an issue that can’t be accurately diagnosed through conventional methods. Examples include:

  • Examining impacted wisdom teeth that need to be extracted.
  • Planning the placement of dental implants.
  • Evaluating the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals and nasal cavity.
  • Confirming a TMJ disorder.
  • Finding and treating jaw tumors.
  • Getting a complete picture of bone structure and tooth orientation.
  • Planning orthodontic treatment or reconstructive surgery.

What Are the Benefits of 3D X-Rays?

The image quality from 3D X-rays tends to be better than that of traditional 2D X-rays since the beam is focused and produces less scatter radiation. Furthermore, since one scan takes multiple pictures from a variety of views and angles, the resulting 3D image can be manipulated for a more complete evaluation.

The process is extremely quick – in fact, it should normally take less than a minute! You won’t need to worry about any discomfort or make any special kind of preparations either; at most, you’ll be asked to remove any earrings or other metal jewelry so that they don’t interfere with the machine. After that, all you’ll need to do is hold still and let the machine complete its rotation.

3D X-rays can be an invaluable tool in any modern dentist’s office that can help ensure your treatment is as successful as it can be. Ask your dentist in Memorial about 3D imaging as well as other kinds of technology they use at their practice; it’s good to know how advanced the care you’re receiving is!

About the Author

Dr. Mark Gray graduated from the University of Texas Dental School in 1993. He’s made a point to keep up with the latest advances in cosmetic dentistry as well as restorative concepts. He can use 3D X-rays for placing dental implants as well as other procedures. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call 281-493-9395.