You may already be familiar with the usual medical uses of a CT scan, also known as computerized tomography scan. This screening tool is used to detect abnormalities in the body, such as blood vessel disorders and tumors.
What you may not know is that the dental community finds this tool useful as well. A dental CT scan can help a dentist discover what’s going on in areas that can’t be seen. In this blog, Dana Samet, DDS, of Dental Art of South Bay explains more about when a CT scan might be necessary.
What a CT scan does
A computerized tomography scan uses a combination of computer and X-ray technology to get images of your organs, bones, and other internal tissues. Dental CT scans can show greater detail than X-rays alone can.
Dental CT scans do give off some radiation, just as X-rays do, but it’s minimal and should have no effect on your long-term health. However, you should tell us if you’re pregnant or could be pregnant because even small amounts of radiation can harm a developing baby.
Why CT scans are important
You’re probably familiar with getting dental X-rays, as this is a standard part of dental exams. Dental X-rays can detect certain problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye, such as problems with the roots of your teeth or within your teeth.
However, dental X-rays can be limited in what they can show. We may recommend a CT scan if you’re having problems with your teeth, and the causes aren’t apparent with a manual exam or standard X-ray.
Dental issues we may evaluate with a CT scan
Dental CT scans can give us a really good picture of what’s going on below your gums. Some of the reasons we might use a CT scan include the following:
- You have problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which may include pain in your jaw or clicking when you chew
- You have an infection below your gum tissue, which may cause unexplained jaw pain
- We’re evaluating your wisdom teeth for a possible extraction
- We’re evaluating your jaws for dental implants
- We’re evaluating you for a sleep apnea diagnosis
- We’re evaluating you for orthodontic treatment
Dental CT scans are especially useful in determining whether or not you’re a good candidate for dental implants. Dental implants need to attach themselves to the bone in order to be secure. Before we place an implant, we need to make sure you have an adequate bone structure to support the implant.
Where to get CT scans
When your family doctor refers you for a CT scan, you usually have to go to a separate facility to have it done. However, when Dr. Samet recommends a CT scan, it can be performed right in her office.
If you need a dental CT scan, Dr. Samet will let you know. If you have any questions about dental CT scans, book an appointment over the phone with Dental Art of South Bay today.