Recently I shared with you some information about the 3D scan technology in our office. Today I am revisiting this topic to explain the reasons why you should opt to have your Cone Beam Computed Tomography, or “CBCT scans,” reviewed by an oral and maxillofacial radiologist.
CBCT scans are an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to identifying the issues in your mouth that can be resolved with orthodontic treatment. But as an orthodontist, my training and dental licenses do not provide for evaluating and diagnosing outside of my areas of specialty.
That is why although we offer free new patient exams that include a full set of 3D images of your teeth, jaws, bones and facial structures, we recommend that you opt for having this important information we gather read by an oral and maxillofacial radiologist. The cost for this service is $120.
We inform each and every patient – or parent, where appropriate – of this option. We provide them with a copy of our i-CAT Cone Beam Informed Consent form, and we explain the benefit of having this information reviewed by a radiologist. By signing this form, you acknowledge that we have made you aware of the possible consequences by sharing with you all of the risks and benefits of having this information reviewed by a specialist.
We feel it is important to empower you with useful information so you can make informed decisions regarding your orthodontic care. That means you can take us up on the offer, or you can decline. I can tell you that in the vast majority of cases, patients and parents decline the referral. I hope today’s post will encourage you to reconsider.
Why Can’t the Orthodontist Review My 3D Scan?
I can, and I do. But keep in mind that I’m looking for things directly related to bite and alignment issues. I use these scans to evaluate your teeth, jaws and surrounding supporting bone. These scans are capable of showing far more information – information that is best interpreted by a specialist who is trained and licensed to evaluate and diagnose a broader area. Our 3D scans can reveal evidence of diseases in the sinuses, cervical spine, skull or arteries.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a dentist who has opted to specialize in gathering and interpreting radiographic images in an effort to diagnose conditions that affect the maxillofacial region. Specializing in this field of study requires education beyond dental school. These specialists must complete a residency in an American Dental Association program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, according to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology. Their training includes gaining a comprehensive understanding of techniques and interpretation for maxillofacial CT, CBCT, MRI, ultrasound and other pertinent modalities. Some oral and maxillofacial radiologists further qualify themselves in their specialty by passing the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology exam.
Benefits of Expert Review
Part of the beauty of 3D scans is the amazing detail the images produce. Detailed images can reveal problems in their early stages. We all know that the earlier a problem is identified, the quicker it can be addressed before it becomes more serious. 3D scans have been responsible for identifying cysts, tumors, degenerative joint disease, airway obstructions, and the early stages of periodontal disease. All of these are pathologies that orthodontists are not specifically trained to identify.
My professional recommendation is to spring for the professional reading, in an abundance of caution. Spending the extra $120 now actually could save you money in the long run if a problem is found that can be more cost-effectively and less invasively treated now that it has been identified early.
If you are a new patient, we hope you will consider this information when you arrive for your first appointment. If you already are a patient of Orthodontics Only and you’ve had a change of heart about getting your 3D scans reviewed by an oral and maxillofacial radiologist, please contact our office today. We are happy to forward your records for review.