By Dr. John White,
Smiles by White

In my practice I use cone beam computed tomography, also known as a dental CAT scan, which allows for more advanced diagnosis and improved treatment planning. This data is used to reconstruct three-dimensional (3-D) images of the patient’s teeth, jaws, nose and throat.

More than just a wrap-around panoramic view of the teeth, I can look at all different angles and see, for example, a deviated septum in the nose, curvatures in the neck and if the jaw joints are symmetrical. This gives me a better idea of how the face is growing and the ability to spot any issues early on that I can treat. It is a very accurate 3-D reconstruction as opposed to looking at shadowy X-rays on the wall.

It helps in the diagnosis, treatment planning and evaluation of certain conditions. It also helps me determine if a palatal expander would be beneficial for a patient by looking at the dimensions of the molar-to-molar width and the orientation of the roots. I can better plan Invisalign or braces cases because I can see root positions and determine when I have to move roots in certain directions, to correctly align the teeth. This technology helps me see “the whole iceberg” rather than just the part above water level.

One of the biggest advantages is that I get images of your teeth, soft tissue and bone in a single scan that emits a very small amount of radiation.

When I first purchased a dental CT scanner in 2007, my orthodontics practice was one of the first to use dental CT scans in the state. As it is becoming the standard of care, about 30 percent of orthodontists now use dental CT scans and that number is increasing rapidly.