I’ve been thinking about getting All on 4 implants. My dentist says it looks like I’m a candidate, but there’s a lengthy planning process which requires a CT scan. I’ve already had dozens of x-rays at this point and I know they have already seen everything they need to. I’m worried about the excess radiation. I’m also worried about the cost. Is the CT scan really necessary or is it an add on to increase my costs? Thanks – Tony
Most dentists require a CT for dental implants, but when several are being placed—as with All-on-4 implants—the scan is even more important.
What Is a CT Scan?
Dental cone beam computed tomography (CT) is a special x-ray that takes 3-D images. Some physicians and the FDA worry about running unnecessary tests. The concern is with the cumulative effect of multiple x-rays that repeatedly expose the same part of the body. Dental x-rays, which are taken once a year, are very focused images. A panoramic x-ray captures your entire jaw. Unless you have an oral health issue, your dentist will limit the number of panoramic x-rays you receive. Ultra-low doses are administered—the absolute least amount necessary to produce the image. Unfortunately, even a panoramic x-ray has its limitations because it’s not a 3-D view.
Reasons a CT Scan Is Needed for All-on-4 Implants
1) The doctor needs to measure your bone density for dental implants. Bone naturally resorbs when teeth are missing. If the bone loss is significant, the scan can help determine the best location for implant placement.
2) The doctor needs to know if you’re a candidate for bone augmentation. If you lack bone density and All-on-4 is not the right treatment for your case, you might need additional grafting to build the bone back up. A CT scan will help the doctor determine your options and enable him to check your progress after surgery.
3) The doctor will get precise measurements of your mouth and all the structures you can’t see from the outside. For example, knowing your sinus cavity is low could indicate that the doctor needs to lift it prior to implants. It will also help him place the implants perfectly.
You can speak with your dentist and ask him why a particular x-ray is needed for All-on-4 implants. He shouldn’t have an issue explaining what area he is trying to see and why prior x-rays are insufficient. Address it from a curiosity standpoint and not an accusatory one, and he’ll likely provide a thorough explanation.
This blog is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist and implant specialist Dr. Anthony LaVacca