Cone-beam CT is an exciting new addition to the imaging armamentarium which can be utilized to investigate the head and neck. It has the potential to transform practically all aspects of dental imaging. It offers an alternative to the need for complicated interpretative reasoning currently used, for example, in parallax techniques for location of unerupted teeth.
The potential scope of clinical applications for cone-beam imaging is vast and currently has been shown to be particularly useful in the following dental and maxillofacial areas:
> Investigation of jaw pathology including cysts, tumours and fibro-osseous lesions;
> Investigation of the paranasal sinuses;
> Investigation of the bony components of the TMJ;
> Pre- and post-implant assessment;
> Orthodontic assessment, both dental development and skeletal base relationship;
> Assessment of wisdom teeth, in particular their relationship to the inferior dental canal;
> Evaluation of facial trauma. In addition, it provides the capability to visualize anything 3-dimensionally; from anatomical tooth anomalies as, for example, in endodontic cases,to the composition of periodontal defects
Advantages of cone-beam imaging
Cone-beam imaging is well matched for the craniofacial area, in particular for evaluating bone and dental hard tissue. As these units have been custom designed for this region, unlike conventional CT, the software has been specifically produced to simplify obtaining the most useful views using pre-set parameters. In addition, most have been developed to work with other proprietary maxillofacial imaging software, such as SimPlant (Materialise, Leuven, Belgium) and Nobel Biocare (Sweden) for implant planning.