In a previous article I've discussed how using CBCT can help discover the source of a patient's pain. However, there are many other advantages to using this technology. How many of your patients want to undergo grafting in order to place implants? I'm betting none of them. I mean who would want to?

Sure some of our patients will go through grafting – but don't mistake that for them looking forward to it. More importantly, how many patients are delaying or choosing not to replace a missing tooth with an implant because of the potential need for grafting?

Not long ago I had a patient who was congenitally missing tooth #13. When her primary tooth was lost she was left with concavity in the facial portion of her ridge which was suggestive of the need for bone grafting if we were to replace her missing tooth with an implant. Additionally, 2-D radiography confirmed that there was a good chance bone grafting would be needed.

Although my patient wanted to replace her missing tooth with an implant, she informed me that she would need to delay the placement due to the apparent need for grafting. This delay went on for several years and I suspect it was not only due to the added cost but also the thought and inconvenience of an additional surgery.

One day during a hygiene exam she again commented that she really wanted to have her implant placed and would do so right away if it was not for the need for her to have bone grafting. Fortunately for her, advancements in technology now allow us to find out for sure, prior to any surgery.

Not only had 3-D imaging become more available in my area, I had installed a CBCT unit in our office. I can't tell you how excited she was about this ability and she jumped on the opportunity. When we reviewed the scan and learned at that same appointment she could have an implant placed without any grafting she was even more excited and shortly thereafter she had her implant placed.

I remember the time when 3-D imaging was not nearly as available to our patients and the barriers to getting it were significant, perhaps even more so than grafting. However, today it's become readily accessible. If you are not yet using 3-D imaging, I encourage you to look into this valuable tool to assist your patients.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty. [ ]