Three-dimensional X-rays capture a true 3-D image of the mouth and allow a dentist to study the mouth in slices, similar to a CT scan. Three-dimensional X-rays sometimes referred to as a cone beam, capture images of the teeth and mouth. As a result, patients are able to see and understand their own dental X-rays easier. These 3-D X-rays show in great detail many things that 2-D X-rays are not able to capture. Traditional dental X-rays show only two dimensions of a three-dimensional object. This is the case whether the X-rays are exposed on film and held up to the light for evaluation, or taken digitally and viewed on a computer.
Many patients assume when they have an X-ray taken at the dentist and the machine moves around their head that they are getting a 3-D X-ray, but this isn’t true. Very few dentists, less than five percent, have a 3-D X-ray machine. Dr. Jon Lebsack, owner of Washington Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in the St. Louis region and located in the Washington, MO. area to have a 3-D X-ray machine.
Three-dimensional X-rays make dentistry more predictable and faster for both the patient and the dentist. There are times when a patient’s tooth hurts and a 2-D X-ray shows no problem. However, a 3-D X-ray may reveal an abscess, an infection, or a crack in the root of a tooth. This allows the patient to have their toothache fixed sooner rather than later.