3D Imaging Systems Elevate Patient Care in General Dentistry Practices


If you are a general practitioner who sees patients with cavities, you can benefit from a 3D cone beam imaging system. If you do root canals, a cone beam could be your best friend. If you routinely handle implants or complex extractions, 3D images are a game changer.

In other words, 3D CBCT imaging technology is for every dentist, including those in general dentistry practices. The technology is powerful and precise, but that’s exactly why family dentists often hold up their hands and say, “I’m not a specialist or doing complex cases. It’s more than I need.”

Dr. Daniel Butterman of Butterman Dental in Centennial, Colorado fully disagrees. He bought a 3D cone beam for one specific application, never expecting to utilize it across his entire practice. Today, it touches nearly everything and every patient he sees.

Versatile and Powerful, Crossing All Types of Dentistry

“In 2013, I bought a 3D cone beam because I was getting into implants,” said
Dr. Butterman, who has been practicing dentistry for 25 years. “I thought that was what I was buying it for. But it shocked me with all of the other features and benefits. All of a sudden, it’s like someone turned the light on because you can see things you couldn’t see before, from all angles. I was blown away.”

Today, he utilizes his cone beam unit multiple times a day. And not just for implant patients, but for nearly every patient. It has replaced the 18 individual films his team used to capture in initial exams. The CBCT gives him more information up front, and also reduces the time his staff spends collecting those images. He uses it with restorative patients, in root canals, periodontics, extractions, orthodontics, and pretty much everything else. Dr. Butterman points to the abundance of data a cone beam delivers as the first and most powerful contributor to a practice’s ROI.

“If I can’t see something, I can’t diagnose it, and I can’t treat it,” said Dr. Butterman. “A doctor will end up with more treatment/production just because he or she can see more things.”

Learn how to incorporate 3D imaging in your practice.

Treatment Acceptance Skyrockets

A cone beam broadcasts hidden issues in the mouth and jaw so a doctor can see them and treat them. In addition, it also allows those problems to be shown to patients in real time so they can become partners in the diagnosis and advocates for their own oral health care. In a few seconds, patients can see things like bone density that indicate need for grafting, or a fracture in a hidden area of the tooth. This patient education helps them become more engaged in choosing options and more open to recommended solutions.

Cone beam images can be integrated with digital scans, so a crown can be planned in CAD/CAM software and imported into the 3D image. “Patients can see their jaw and final crown on the screen before we even make it,” noted Dr. Butterman. “It’s shocking to them. Case acceptance is night and day.” Cone beam images can also be downloaded into a DICOM file format and sent to other colleagues or other software used in the practice.

Give your patients another reason to trust you! Upgrade to 3D today.

Predictable, Positive Outcomes

Another way a cone beam boosts ROI is in the speed and precision with which procedures can be done. If a doctor was doing an implant case without 3D imaging, he or she wouldn’t know for sure what they would find until they flapped the tissue. Or in the case of root canals, valuable time had to be spent surveying the canal and checking for extra canals. By knowing what’s waiting underneath before the procedure starts, a doctor can approach cases, particularly complex cases, with more confidence, according to Dr. Butterman. ROI isn’t just measured in what is done, but what doesn’t have to be redone or expanded into a longer appointment, or several.

Dr. Butterman has had patients come in with existing root canals who admit the tooth has never felt right but they’ve just lived with it. Regular X-rays found nothing wrong, but then he takes a 3D image! “I can’t tell you how many root canals I’ve seen that have massive infections even though the patient is asymptomatic,” said the doctor.

Patients are thrilled to finally have answers to causes of pain or discomfort that couldn’t be identified before, and the patient word-of-mouth travels far and fast, another intangible ROI.

Looking for crisper images? Contact us to request more information on 3D imaging machines.

Empowering Doctors To Expand Dentistry, Choose Cases

3D imaging also allows doctors to choose their cases with greater assurance. Dr. Butterman now takes on more complicated implant cases and extractions he believes he wouldn’t have done before, because he can see comprehensive detail. Conversely, he has chosen to refer cases that looked simple initially, but after seeing the 3D images, he realized were more challenging than expected. It gives doctors control of the type of dentistry they want to do.

The ROI for a cone beam may not be as obvious as other technologies like same-day dentistry, but Dr. Butterman has experienced incredible production growth in the six years he’s used his.  The CBCT allows him to see oral health issues that he wouldn’t have seen any other way and solve them for patients.

“It’s not immediately obvious, but the next thing you know, production will be up because you can see more and do more procedures,” explained Dr. Butterman.

Contact an imaging specialist for insights on incorporating 3D imaging into your practice.

Patient Safety and Health

The big contributors to a cone beam ROI are numerous:

  • An increased number of cases that are identified due to precise images that capture obscure issues
  • Efficiency of treating these cases when a doctor has complete detail about what to expect
  • A higher rate of predictable outcomes when challenges can be planned for in advance
  • Happy patients who receive and understand the diagnosis and buy in to your treatment

Dr. Butterman

For Dr. Butterman, all of those factors are key to his cone beam’s ROI, but there’s one factor that is even greater for him... a single patient experience in which the cone beam discovered a bony tumor. Dr. Butterman referred the patient to his doctor, and the patient called back a few months later with news that the tumor had been malignant and the scan had saved his life!

“There is no greater ROI than that! We are in the business of solving problems,” concluded
Dr. Butterman. “Diagnosing is our job. If there’s a tool that makes our diagnoses more accurate, we owe it to ourselves—and our patients—to use it.”

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