See More. Treat More. 3D Imaging: Periodontists


Dental practices often purchase cone beam 3D imaging for a specific application. However, once doctors start using a cone beam, they discover it’s a jack-of-all-trades piece of equipment that’s more versatile and valuable than they thought. A cone beam reveals issues in the oral cavity that would otherwise go unnoticed, elevating the effectiveness of pre-treatment planning for more predictable outcomes.

In the field of periodontics, Periodontists diagnose and treat their patient’s teeth, supporting structure, and gums. The cone beam allows early diagnosis of issues around the tooth and its supporting bone and ligament structures that are not always seen by traditional 2D X-rays. Being able to diagnose these problems early is important because the disease can progress with few obvious symptoms, damaging teeth and the surrounding bone. This is critical as advanced gum disease is linked to a higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, as well as loss of teeth.

Cone Beam More Effective Detecting Periodontal Disease

Periodontists often use 3D imagingThe standard of care in diagnosing periodontal disease has been manual probing of pockets alongside 2D intraoral and panoramic X-rays. While those modalities still provide excellent clinical care, the 2D images do lose some detail by not capturing measurements of three-dimensional teeth. The only way to truly diagnose periodontal disease is through a detailed examination, so adding a more precise technology to catch signs of advancement is beneficial.

Cone Beam Usage Confirmed By Research

3D imaging technology delivers incredibly detailed images that offer precise measurements. The Association of Periodontics released its position in 2017 about CBCT after a decade of study and confirmed that it is a valuable tool that doctors should use on a case-by-case basis to provide the best possible diagnostic results to patients. A study in the Journal of Periontology concluded that cone beam imaging was more effective than probing and 2D X-rays for evaluating the health of the periodontal structures and in detecting bone defects in all directions when compared with traditional X-rays. It was equally effective as standard methods in the inter-proximal areas.

Dr. Daniel Butterman, a general dentist in Centennial, Colorado, and owner of Butterman Dental, uses his cone beam unit daily with most patients because of the wealth of patient data it provides with a single pass. It’s replaced his full-mouth series in initial exams. In using 3D imaging, he has discovered problems he knows would have gone undiagnosed without it. Undiagnosed issues often lead to more severe symptoms.

“I’ve had patients walk into the office in pain,” confirmed Dr. Butterman. “We’ve used 3D imaging and found periodontic infections, fractures, and even cavities that are close to the nerve.”

Cone Beam Vital To Implant Dentistry

In addition to identifying advancing bone and structural damage from gum disease, the cone beam is nearly indispensible to Periodontists who have expanded their practice into implant dentistry. Dr. Peter Hunt, who operates a practice that focuses on implant dentistry in Philadelphia, purchased a cone beam more than 15 years ago. He uses the cone beam multiple times every day. 3D imaging gives him the power to plan out every part of the implant procedure ahead of time. He plans the placement of the implant and mocks up the position of the restoration for patient viewing. In addition, 3D images give him the ability to display the bone region for an easy visual as he discusses bone grafting, if necessary.

“The cone beam gives me a much greater sense of comfort,” said Dr. Hunt. “In fact, in my opinion, doctors shouldn’t be placing an implant without one.”

Dr. Butterman also uses the cone beam images to make choices about the complexity of cases he accepts, and to prepare for the scenarios involved in the procedure ahead of time.

“When you do implant surgery, there are a lot of things you don’t know until you flap the tissue,” said Dr. Butterman. “I might have thought there was more bone support, or I wasn’t sure. Because of the cone beam, I can see that the implant can be done safely. It has let me confidently plan cases correctly.”

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

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