Biomedical engineers used advanced cone beam imaging technology to take a series of three dimensional x-rays, which enabled them to create a detailed three dimensional picture of the patient’s mouth. Better images allow dentists to increase their understanding of the patient’s mouth and predict the outcome of procedures with improved accuracy.
Space-age technology, biomedical engineering and computer science — they’re all coming soon to your dentist’s office near you. It’s revolutionary science that could help give you a healthier smile.
In the next eight-and-a-half seconds, a machine can take 435 X-rays of a patients’ jaw and teeth, creating full 3-D imaging with more detail and accuracy and less radiation than a traditional dental X-ray. Physicist, Jeff Sitterle, Ph.D., says it’s just one way researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are changing the science of dentistry.
“We’re focusing on very new technologies and these technologies are actually things that have been utilized in other types of manufacturing and other industries, but they fit very nicely into dentistry,” Dr. Sitterle, chief scientist at the Georgia Tech Research institute, told Ivanhoe.
Using cone beam imaging technology — a type of CT scan — dentists take a three-dimensional X-ray every one degree around the patient’s jaw. As a result, dentists can develop treatment plans and actually predict the outcome of procedures before treatment.
Beyond diagnosis, researchers are developing ways to use the 3-D imaging for fabrication of bridges and other restorations that used to be made by hand. Even the materials are revolutionary. Researchers have discovered that the same high strength ceramic used for the tiles on the space shuttle can work better than metal in permanent dental crowns.
“Zirconium is used for a lot of things in high temperature, high strength type processes, so including the space shuttle tiles and in other manufacturing in automobiles and various things where you’re looking for lightweight, but very, very high strength.” Dr. Sitterle explains.
From stronger materials to more precise diagnosis and treatment, researchers say patients will see the benefits. Right now, 80 percent of the problems associated with crowns and bridges are linked to inaccurate impressions. Researchers say this new technology will go a long way toward improving that and helping those prostheses last longer.
Cone beam CT Scanners have been utilized in dentistry for several years now. The technology is amazing. As a periodontist, these images allow me to see vital anatomical structures, thus allowing me to determine the exact type of implant that will be needed for that particular case.