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Questions to Ask When Buying a Dental Cone Beam System

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Upgrading to a dental cone beam system brings a lot of advantages to your practice. Three-dimensional imaging allows for more precise diagnoses and the ability to offer additional services to your patients. However, it can also be a major step that requires proper planning and consideration. If you’re interested in upgrading to dental cone beam technology in your office, consider the following questions.

Why is CBCT so critical for implant planning?

One of the most common reasons dental professionals seek cone beam technology is so that they can offer dental implants and other specialized treatments to their patients. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) allows you to visualize a cross-sectional view of the implant location. This view provides critical information that you can’t get from a 2D image. In fact, the AAOMR has been recommending cross-sectional imaging for the assessment of all dental implant sites since 2012, and cone beam is the cross-sectional imaging method of choice.

How do I determine what size FOV I need?

There are three general categories that define field of view (FOV): small, medium, and large.

Small FOV machines are typically under 5 x 5 cm. Small, or focused FOV cone beam, is a great choice for single implants or endodontics, where 3D images of a single tooth or quadrant is sufficient. Some small FOV systems allow you to “stitch” the images together to form a complete arch. But, don’t forget, this often requires patients to be imaged multiple times.

Medium FOV cone beam systems are typically 8 x 8 cm or 10 x 10 cm. These are adequate for most applications and allow you to capture most of the essential anatomy. However, you may miss 3rd molars, be unable to perform an airway analysis, capture both TMJs in one scan, and there’s little room for error in patient positioning. For these reasons, you may opt for a larger FOV.

Large FOV systems range from 10 x 16 cm up to 23 x 17 cm. These units are best for capturing a majority of the cranium in a single scan. Large field of view cone beam systems are ideal for orthodontists, oral surgeons, sleep studies, and other specialties.

What is the difference in patient dosage?

A typical panoramic X-ray has an effective dose of about 14 μSv. A full mouth series that includes 18 intraoral radiographs results in about 171 μSv. The effective dose range for a medium FOV cone beam is between 83 and 194 μSv.

To put this in perspective for patients, the average radiation exposure is about 7 μSv per day. A cross-country flight is about 30 μSv. A chest medical CT scan is 7000 μSv.

Will dental cone beam integrate with my current systems?

For 2D pano and ceph images, integration is typically straightforward since the 2D images will be automatically exported into the office imaging software, likely with the industry-standard TWAIN.

For 3D volumes, the cone beam system typically includes its own software that allows for a scan to be shared throughout the office, but the images are too large to be saved and shared within traditional 2D imaging or practice management software.

What determines image quality?

There are many factors that can affect image quality including focal spot size and voxel size. Typically, the smaller the focal spot, the higher the precision of the scans. These can be as large as 0.7 mm or as small as 0.2 mm. Likewise, the smaller the voxel, the higher the resolution. However, voxel size will also vary depending on the FOV of the given scan. Remember, the larger the FOV, the larger the voxel size, and therefore the lower the resolution. That range is typically between 70 and 400 micrometers.

Contact Renew Digital

When you’re ready to upgrade to a dental cone beam system, please give Renew Digital a call. We can answer all your questions and help you find the right system for your office. All our units are certified, pre-owned so you know you’re getting a high-quality imaging device at an affordable price. All purchases made through Renew Digital also include installation, training, and warranty, so you don’t have to worry about a thing!

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