How Can A CT Scan Help With Dental Implants?

Posted on: 2 March 2021

The process for installing a dental implant is actually quite straightforward while delivering revolutionary results. The process isn't quite so clear-cut when a patient needs multiple dental implants. More than one implant can be required for a number of reasons, whether this is individual implants to replace several missing teeth or multiple implants to support a partial denture or dental bridge. Sometimes, additional steps are required to ensure the successful placement of multiple implants.

The Underlying Bone

One of the main obstacles for successful implant placement is the density of the underlying bone (the alveolar ridge), which must successfully integrate with the titanium implant in order to stabilize it. This bone can lose density when it no longer has to support a tooth, and bone grafting can be necessary to overcome this obstacle. When only a single implant is required, bone grafting is a minor inconvenience. However, this can become too great an issue when multiple implants are to be placed simultaneously.

A Map of Your Jaw

When multiple implants are required, your dentist needs to create a map of your jaw, identifying the precise location of your sinus cavities in relation to potential implant sites, along with the location of nerve canals and areas where the alveolar ridge is lacking in density. This creates a surgical map for your implants, and this is achieved with a computed tomography (CT) scan. 

Customized Surgical Guide

It might seem like an extreme step to receive a CT scan prior to dental surgery, but this allows for a diagnostic scan of your jaw, which then means your dentist can create a customized surgical guide for your implant surgery. This is most beneficial when the implants don't need to be positioned in exact alignment with your dental sockets, such as when multiple implants will be installed to hold a prosthesis, like an implant-supported denture or bridge.

3D Modeling 

The CT scan means that a 3D model of your jaw is created, and this model is far more precise than other, commonly-used diagnostic tools, like a panoramic X-ray. It actually creates a patient-specific surgery process, just for you. This means that the model essentially creates a list of instructions for your dentist, identifying the best location and depth for implant placement. This might one day become standard for all implants, but for the moment, it's generally only utilized for patients who need more than one implant to be placed at the same time.  

So if multiple implants are required, don't be surprised if your dentist recommends a CT scan to best plan the procedure.