Is it preferable to have a Cone Beam CT to determine the dimensional density of bone (especially in the case of bone-graft) before having a dental implant installed? Or, is it satisfactory to rely on the skill and judgment of the Dr. to know whether the bone is dense enough and what is the best size and orientation for the implant placement?
This is an excellent question and our answer may meet with a bit of controversy, in some circles.
Essentially, it is our belief that Cone Beam CT is fast becoming the standard of care in the placement of dental implants.
The fact remains that proper implant treatment planning remains the first priority for implant success. Traditional radiographs do provide adequate information about proposed implant sites, however, they suffer from limited film size, image distortion, magnification, and a subpar 2-D view. In contrast, the 3D views obtained from the newer Cone Beam CT machines offer invaluable information for important anatomical areas with images of high resolution and accuracy.
The advantages of CBCT include: its specific design for the maxillofacial region, a reduced radiation exposure, cheaper, and excellent quality of images.
Given these tremendous benefits, CBCT is an essential tool for implant treatment. Of course, most dentists didn't have access to CBCT until somewhat recently, but now that the technology is so easily accessible, there really is no reason to not take advantage to ensure dental implant success.
We should mention in closing that, at the current time, many dentists and surgeons, despite their incredible skill, will simply not place dental implants without a Cone Beam CT. Since the fee for a Cone Beam CT can run between $300 - $600 (depending on location), it is really a small cost to pay to ensure proper implant treatment planning. We do not think it is any longer satisfactory to simply rely on the skill and judgement of a dentist.