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Dental CT Scans and Bone Width For Implants – Burbank Implant Expert Explains

There’s a good chance I will need to obtain one or more x-rays of your jaw, teeth or facial skeleton at some point during the diagnostic evaluation (or workup) of your bone loss or missing teeth areas.

3D Cone-Beam CT scans allow me to view  bone in a very special way.  What most people don’t know is that a regular x-ray can only show how “tall” your bone is; it can not show the “width.”  CT or “CAT” scans allow the width to be determined.

These pictures of a real patient that I treated in my office in Burbank should help.  I placed five dental implants in his lower jaw.

Joseph hopeck axialJoseph hopeck cross section2Joseph hopeck cross section5 
So often times a regular x-ray, just doesn’t show enough information to safely place a dental implant.  Your bone may “look” wide, but only really be just gums! 

A regular x-ray is a 2 dimensional image while the jaws and facial skeleton are 3-dimensional structures-therefore, they are unable to provide all the information sometimes required. Often times films (or copies of films) from your previous dentist can be utilized without the need for additional imaging; however, please be aware many times these film images are of inadequate orientation or quality.

When an image has been transferred to paper, critical areas of anatomy cannot always be discerned adequately in order to safely plan. Transferring radiographic data from electronic media to paper can result in significant loss of image resolution and clarity. In these cases a new image in my office is typically obtained.

Each patient and area is very unique.  Not all patients need CT scans.

Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
Burbank, California

4 thoughts on “Dental CT Scans and Bone Width For Implants – Burbank Implant Expert Explains

  1. 3 D CT scans showed the width of my # 8 tooth’s bone is 7 mm. One dentist said he could do implant without bone graft but the other dentist said I need bone graft first then do implant. I am not sure which dentist I need to go with. Would you tell me do I need bone graft or not? Thanks.


    1. Hi Frank,

      The width of bone is just one issue. Sure 7mm is enough if everything is exactly right.

      If the bone is slanted at the crest even though you might have enough width the bone will be missing in a critical area. This is only one example of many. These issues get magnified in the cosmetic part of your smile.

      It takes both a 3d scan and an excellent clinical exam, training and judgement to determine this.

      If I were you I would go with the highly experienced dentist who does a lot of implants very well. You really want this to be done well! It is a body part!

      Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
      Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
      Fellow-American Academy of Implant Dentistry

  2. Hi Joanne,
    Yes, bone grafts can be done around natural teeth to save them.
    They can only be done when the molar has a “certain” type of bone defect.
    Most bone loss around teeth cannot be treated this way.

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