3D Technology in Dentistry?

3D diagnostic imaging is a set of techniques that produce three-dimensional images of the inside of the body in a non-invasive way, providing information about its structure and function and helping to diagnose and correct anomalies in it.

What does 3D imaging consist of?

These studies consist of sending forms of energy, either by means of X-rays, sound waves or magnetic fields, through the body. The tissues respond in a characteristic way creating an image that we must interpret.

The most frequent procedures are: computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. In the case of computed tomography, it is performed in the same way as normal X-rays, but with multiple slices or cross sections through which the computer creates three-dimensional images that can be rotated and viewed from different angles, favoring the diagnosis. It is mainly used for the assessment of hard tissue parts of the body such as bone and teeth.

MRI uses magnets instead of radiation to create the images. It creates cross-sectional slices from many angles: front, side, above or below. It is mainly used for the assessment of soft tissue parts of the body such as joints, muscle tissue, vascular or nerve tissue.

What are its advantages in detecting pathology?

We cannot diagnose what we do not know and we cannot diagnose what we do not see. That is why 3D images are so useful because they allow us to obtain images with greater clarity, in the three planes of space and with three-dimensional reconstructions that help us to orient ourselves better. They allow us to assess the dimensions of the anatomical structures in the different planes of space, with margins of error below 1%.

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It is characterized by the absence of image superimpositions, by the possibility of identifying soft tissues and by the selective enlargement of the areas of interest.

In addition, it improves the quality of the image obtained and reduces exposure times, like fourth-generation helical tomographs (Helical CT).

What kind of pathologies can be detected?

Thanks to this advance in the field of dentistry we can obtain the precise location of unerupted teeth, as is the case of impacted canines that were misleading with the usual radiographs.

On the other hand, they help in the planning of dental implants not only in their more precise location, but also through the possibility that these images give to create 3D models through which we can perform guided surgeries without making openings or sutures.
It is also possible to detect lesions of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), allowing the precise anatomical study of anomalies, as well as the size and shape of the condyles.

It should be noted that it is also very useful for the exact localization of a lesion or pathology, in some cases as serious as cancer, where the success of surgery often depends on the precision provided by these images.

Once the diagnosis has been made, what is the next step?

3D images have been a great revolution and are part of a digital workflow that continues with presentations to our patients on three-dimensional treatment plans that simulate the results we are going to obtain, the creation of surgical guides that provide us with unparalleled precision and comfort and, finally, the creation of prostheses with better and more predictable adjustments.

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In short, we can affirm that 3D images are now essential in the development of our professional activity. For more information, consult a specialist in dentistry.