In recent years, it may seem as if every one of your dental colleagues is buying a fancy Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) machine and it can leave you with a bit of tech envy. And, for good reason—it is a serious investment. If you are wondering whether or not a purchase of this magnitude is necessary for you, here are some of the top reasons to consider.
First, let’s explore the machine itself. What is CBCT?
It is essentially another x-ray machine. However, unlike traditional scanners, CBCT provides three-dimensional images of teeth, soft tissues, bone and nerves in one image. Why is this important for dentists and their patients?
In a hyper-litigious society, liability may not be the driving force for your practice of dentistry, but it certainly is top of mind. While striving to see every possible oral issue in patients, doctors are limited not by dental acumen, but the tools available. Two-dimensional panoramic x-rays do not show the level of detail and accuracy of their 3D counterparts. On top of the possible negatives of misdiagnosis, there is myriad of unrealized production opportunity. A clinician needs all the information to ensure accuracy of diagnosis, and that includes seeing patient anatomy in 3D.
Regardless of the potential lawsuits, what about accuracy? Two-dimensional panoramic x-rays are shown to be erroneous 30% of the time. That is to say nearly one-third of your patients not receiving the highest level of care. What is an acceptable percentage of clinical error? Does that number remain satisfactory if you are treating a loved one?
Everyday dentists struggle to impart the systemic importance of proper oral care. Yet, dentistry is the last medical art to still do procedures relying on 2D technology. We live and treat in 3D, therefore we need to analyze in 3D.
In this age of vaccination opposition and homeopathic medicine, some patients may be concerned about the ill effects of radiation as a result of x-ray exposure. In reality, a 2D panoramic x-ray delivers twice the exposure dose of a CBCT and the 3D image has thousands more data points. In fact, a banana in your cereal, everyday for a year, can impart nearly three times the radiation of a CBCT machine. This is pertinent information to relay to your patients to soothe fears of overdose.
There are countless advantages of CT images vs. traditional two-dimensional x-rays. Take the time to research the different features, support and reliability of available machines and manufacturers. Consider this as you would any other large investment—with time and due diligence—your patient’s lives and your livelihood, depend on it.