Dental or Oral radiology is the discipline of radiology concerned with the use of radiation in diagnosis of dental diseases. This dental diagnostic science is also known as Oral and maxillofacial radiology and is considered the cornerstone for every emergency or comprehensive dental treatment.
This field of dentistry mainly deals with the production and interpretation of radiographic images, including X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT), Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans that are used to provide diagnostic information for the management of disorders, diseases and conditions affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck.
Types of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiography
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologists (OMRs) usually leverage advanced radiographic imaging technologies, such as:
- Digital Imaging
- Plain Films and Computed Tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Ultrasound (US)
Dental imaging with digital X-ray technologies provides many advantages over their conventional predecessors. It is not only faster, easier and cost-effective but also provides high-definition 3D digital images with 80 percent less radiation than its conventional counterparts. Digital images can be shared, stored on a hard drive, enlarged and enhanced for improving diagnostic accuracy.
Plain Films and Computed Tomography (CT)
Plain films, the traditional intraoral or panoramic radiographs, offers two-dimensional (2D) images while computed tomography (CT) offers three-dimensional (3D) images. These diagnostic radiographs come in handy when it comes to treating conditions such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders or impacted teeth. Additionally, they are useful for checking if adequate bone structure exists to support an implant as well as determine precise location of implant placement.
CT scans provide information not attainable with plain films and also makes internal anatomy clearer by eliminating overlapping structures.
Another variant of CT is cone beam CT (CBCT) is an advanced imaging modality designed for imaging maxillofacial hard tissue and is capable of providing high diagnostic quality images with lower radiation dosages than conventional CT scans.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a radiology tool that utilizes non-ionizing radiations (radio waves), magnetism and a computer to produce highly detailed images used to evaluate and treat TMJ pathologies, trauma to soft tissues, salivary gland tumors or oral cancer.
This non-invasive procedure is painless, has no known side effects and is effective in detecting abnormalities of the soft tissues, joints and bones. However, MRIs are inadvisable for people with metal piercings, pacemakers, metal implants or claustrophobia.
Ultrasound imaging or scanning uses high frequency sound waves to detect dental caries, maxillofacial fractures, TMJ disorders, periodontal bony defects, etc., using images that can be highly sensitive and specific.
Ultrasonography is non-invasive, inexpensive, painless, and there are no known side effects associated with this dental diagnostic imaging tool.
Why is Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology important to you?
Oral and maxillofacial radiology is an important field of dentistry because radiographic images can reveal non-clinically visible dental and osseous anatomical structures. This is crucial since oral clinical manifestations often have a hidden root in the bone covered by soft tissues.
With the advent of advanced imaging technologies, dental professionals are facing challenges to manage the huge amount of data in the form of high-resolution images with detailed presentation of anatomical structures.
No wonder oral and maxillofacial radiology reporting is gaining importance exponentially over time. It provides complete and exhaustive interpretations and diagnosis of all the aspects of maxillofacial complex, which is an essential element in dental treatment planning.
Leverage the expertise of BeamReaders to get the maximum clinical value from your scans!