Norfolk Dental Specialists
Posted on 6th July 2017

Utilising the Latest Technology: Our Cone Beam CT Scanner

Patient in CBCT scanner
Most dentists have been keen early adopters of technological advances. From X-ray photography that allows us to examine bones beneath the gum line to modern scanners that can reveal the secrets of softer tissues, developments in imaging technology have quickly been put to use to improve the quality of patient care. As inheritors of this tradition, Norfolk Dental Specialists have invested in a Cone Beam CT Scanner.
What is a CT Scanner?
The CT stands for Computed Tomography – but that’s not much help in understanding what they do. Essentially, a CT Scanner can be used to build up a 3D image of your bone structure. In the case of dentistry, we use them to get a good look at your teeth and jawbone.
How is that different from an X-ray?
An X-ray photograph is a single picture that shows parts of your body based on their ability to absorb X-rays. X-rays travel through soft tissue and reflect off bones – that’s why they show up white in X-ray images. A CT scan takes hundreds of X-ray pictures from all different directions. A computer can then combine all this information into a single three-dimensional image.
Why are dental CT Scanners sometimes referred to as ‘Cone Beam’?
The ‘Cone Beam’ describes the angle that the X-rays come out of the scanner. The angle of each X-ray is slightly divergent from its companion, creating a conical beam of X-rays with the patient’s head in the centre. The beam is then rotated around the patient – allowing us to see the jawbone and teeth from all angles.
How is a CBCT Scanner useful for a dentist?
Seeing the condition of the parts of teeth and jawbone that are normally hidden beneath the gums is immensely useful in diagnosing and in planning treatment once we have established diagnosis. One of our specialities is the placing of dental implants. These are implanted in the jaw, so it is especially useful for us to be able to examine the proposed site of the implant before surgery.
This advanced imaging tool gives dentists a full view and accurate measurements of a patient's bone structure. Using our scanner, we can see adjacent root positions which helps us to identify canals and root fractures before embarking on endodontic treatment. Use of the scanner increases the chances of a successful treatment because it gives our clinicians a clearer idea of what to expect when preparing for extractions, evaluations and implant placements.
Are CBCT Scanners safe?
As with all types of X-ray, there is a small exposure to radiation. A dental CBCT scanner exposes a patient to more radiation than a conventional X-ray photograph, but significantly less than a medical CT scanner. Radiation is measured in microsieverts. Depending on the Field of View, a CBCT scan will expose a patient to between 48 and 1073 microsieverts. To put this into perspective, we are all exposed to 2700 microsieverts of radiation annually just by exposure to background radiation levels. To ensure safety, the use of CT scanners is highly regulated. You can read all the guidance that we strictly adhere to in this government document.   
At Norfolk Dental Specialists, we consider our investment in new technologies a commitment to our patients and the General Dental Practitioners who refer them. Our referral process couldn’t be simpler. We have an online form that GDPs can fill out with their own details and with details of the patient and the reason for the referral.
If you would like any further information about our technology or patient referral process, please don’t hesitate to contact our reception on 01603 632525.
You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
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