See More. Treat More. 3D Imaging: Orthodontists


Orthodontists have slowly been adopting cone beam technology for treatment planning and post-analysis of orthodontic results. The cone beam provides more information than a 2D X-ray to predict growth and make decisions that affect not just the alignment of the mouth and teeth but other anatomy.

More detail = More confidence

Dr. John Pasicznyk owns Northview Dental in Indiana, a general dentistry practice with several locations. He purchased a cone beam in 2013 and uses it widely across his practice, including with orthodontic patients. He sees 12 to 15 orthodontic cases every month, and he credits the cone beam unit as the catalyst to his growth in that area.

“In my practice, the orthodontic cases have increased three or four times since integrating CBCT into our evaluation and workup process,” said Dr. Pasicznyk.

He believes there are two main reasons: first, patients are more motivated to accept treatment recommendations when they see the 3D images of how their teeth actually look. For some patients, it’s a surprise to see what their teeth look like in 3D compared to black and white X-ray images, and they are motivated to act.

“When they see exactly where their teeth are positioned in the cone beam CT scan, they better understand the need and benefits of orthodontic treatment,” said Dr. Pasicznyk, who confirmed that treatment acceptance has gone through the roof.

Orthodontists use 3D imaging to capture accurate scansA second benefit of 3D imaging he’s experienced is increased confidence in accepting orthodontic cases that may have appeared too complicated before.

“I can understand rotations and facial-lingual positioning of roots, which allows me to have a better idea of exactly how complex the case is,” said
Dr. Pasicznyk. “Since I can see the exact position of roots and make precise measurements of where the teeth are in relationship to each other, I can now look at a case I would have previously passed up and confidently tell the patient we can help them.”

A study confirms how detailed cone beam images affect treatment planning. When 3D data was considered in orthodontic cases, approximately 25% of the plans, such as which tooth to pull to allow an impacted tooth to erupt, were altered from the decisions made from traditional X-rays#.

Cone Beam View of Anatomy Leads to Predictable Results

Applying forces to move teeth can be a challenging process. The cone beam considers other related anatomy that can affect how those forces are applied and the impact it has on other areas, such as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or how a patient’s facial view may be affected by orthodontics.

There’s always concern over the use of radiation in dentistry, and that’s evident in the adoption of 3D imaging as well, particularly since so many orthodontics patients are children and teens. It’s imperative for doctors to be thoughtful about the cases where cone beam imaging benefits outweigh the cautions and to use it in specific applications where 2D imaging may actually lead to a less stable, consistent outcome.

With different fields of view, however, a cone beam image can be a multi-purpose window into the patient’s entire facial anatomy, serving as a replacement to other 2D radiographs and cephalometric images. In the end, 3D imaging is an important tool that delivers more aesthetic and more stable adjustments in orthodontics that go beyond straightening teeth to provide the best overall results and health for the patient.

Contact a Henry Schein Representative to learn more about 3D solutions for Orthodontists.

This article is part of Henry Schein Dental’s “See More. Treat More.” 3D Imaging series. Continue learning: