How to Diagnose with 2D vs. 3D

2D dental X-rays

How to Diagnose with 2D vs. 3D

Throughout its 125-year history, oral radiology has played an integral role in dental treatment across all specialties. While X-ray technology is ubiquitous throughout many areas of medicine, it is interesting to note that dental radiographs were among the first X-ray images of human subjects ever rendered. Two-dimensional X-ray imaging has long been a fixture in the American dental office; however, it is thought-provoking to consider that, in many countries, oral radiology is considered a specialty in and of itself. This should serve as a reminder of how we can take technology for granted, and that we should strive to make the most out of that which is available to us.

To this end, it is important to remain familiar with emerging and evolving dental technologies. This ensures that dental clinicians continue to perform the highest quality work and continuously improve patient outcomes through consistent and accurate diagnoses. One such technology is cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). CBCT imaging is revolutionizing the dental industry by creating pristine three-dimensional images observable from all angles, depths and distances. Unlike traditional 2D options like panoramic X-rays and single tomograms, CBCT captures hundreds of tomograms and stacks them in order to yield precise and maneuverable renderings for viewing from many angles.

With such a considerable contrast between 2D and 3D imaging, how does diagnosis differ between the two options?

2D Imaging

Traditional two-dimensional oral radiology has seen such an extensive and unwavering span of use in the field of dentistry with good reason. It has generally served as a reliable mainstay in a few key areas. For example, 2D X-rays are a valuable tool for standard checkups as they make it simple to update patient records. They are also helpful in the identification of certain degrees of tooth decay. There is certainly a time and place for 2D imaging, especially in general dentistry. However, many modern practices are finding that outside of more routine diagnoses, 2D leaves much to be desired.

3D Imaging

The advent of 3D imaging like CBCT has revealed many of 2D’s existing shortcomings; relying solely on 2D imaging stands to put clinicians at a significant disadvantage in diagnosis, treatment planning and overall patient experience. In regards to diagnosis, 3D imaging simply provides more detail and accuracy than what was previously possible. The ability to render each case in exquisite detail and view it from multiple vantage points in every plane creates confidence in diagnosing where before there was uncertainty. The ability to examine multiple layers of bone and tissue is also invaluable in eliminating guesswork and identifying complications. What’s more, the additional detail makes these images ideal for sharing with patients when discussing a recommended treatment plan.

2D X-rays and 3D CBCT imaging needn’t conflict with one another; both options have their time and place. However, those that choose not to adopt CBCT into their practices are doing themselves and their patients a disservice by inhibiting the level of diagnostic accuracy than they could otherwise achieve. If you would like to learn more about CBCT technology and how it can be integrated successfully into your practice, call us today at 855-PREXION or find a representative in your area.