I am missing several teeth and am interested in dental implants. When I saw my dentist for a complimentary consultation, he recommended that I have x-rays done, as well as a CT scan. I was wondering if they can just use the x-rays they have on file because I recently had them done. It couldn’t have been but six or eight months ago. The other issue that is coming into play here is that I had a separate medical issue earlier this year that required a lot of x-rays to be taken. So, if I don’t need the CT scan and x-rays, I’d rather avoid the radiation. When I tried to talk with the office staff about it, I felt like I was given the run around. Like, this is what we recommend for all dental implant cases, etc. Do I need the CT scan to move forward?
-Ben in California
You very well could have received the “canned” response when you inquired. You should discuss this with your dentist personally, because he has the most up-to-date information about your case. Most experienced implant dentists will rely on a CT scan because it is much more sophisticated than the x-ray you receive at your regular cleaning. These scans are three-dimensional and can identify precisely where your nerves are located, as well as your sinus cavities. It will also ensure you have adequate bone density available at the surgical sites. So, it is an essential step to avoid unforeseen issues down the road.
There are some dentists out there that will skip this step to expedite the process. These dentists run a much higher risk of puncturing the nasal cavity, among other complications that can be avoided. Others may prefer smaller implant posts which wouldn’t require as much information to place them successfully. The problem with this route is the longevity of the dental implants. Having the proper diagnostics done on the front end will help minimize the risk of dental implant failure and ultimately the possibility of having the work redone.
When the scans are administered, every effort is taken to minimize your exposure to the targeted implant sites. Newer technologies available today, will also reduce the radiation risk by scattering it. Discuss it with your doctor. But the x-rays that were taken to prevent cavities will likely not serve his purposes. Also, it is worth mentioning that the amount of radiation you have actually been exposed to may be less than you realize.
In a nutshell, you can skip the CT scan. But it is not recommended. Thank you for your question.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS