The What and Why of Dental Imaging?



Digital imaging

Digital Dental Imaging or digital image acquisition is the creation of digital images, recording clinical information and can include 3D scans of the dental arches (teeth), jaw joints and airway and photography . The value in dentistry and diagnosis is enormous, and none more so, than when assessing the upper airway and jaw joints before Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) treatments.

In cases of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring the nose, nasal cavity, sinuses and the throat are all extremely important in optimized sleep breathing and a compromised airway can very easily compromise health and treatment too. There may even be times when the “problem” can be resolved from acting on the information gained, thereby avoiding CPAP or oral appliances although more often, these treatments can be enhanced.

Colour image of skull - CBCT airway analysis

Not everyone needs imaging but in cases where it’s indicated it can provide benefits that when combined with experience, accurate diagnostics and appropriate treatment planning can make the difference between success and failure.

Cutting edge technology allows visualization of the upper airway with a fraction of the dose of radiation from traditional hospital based machines. With a radiologist’s report the dentist can work together with the patient’s physician’s and specialists.

Examples of dental imaging

Due to the developmental damage that occurs with sleep disordered breathing, jaw growth may be affected and jaw joint problems can ensue. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is often seen in association with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Imaging studies and specialist commentary

Again, imaging can be of great value in determining what has happened and how it can be treated. (Surgery is almost never the ideal treatment, and we prefer conservative approaches which are commonly those appropriate and chosen).


Big Chalk Question Mark on Blackboard
TMD is often seen in association with OSA

Dental imaging can be used for diagnosis for surgery (ie wisdom teeth) , airway, implants, endodontics (root canals) and general review for pathologies including space occupying lesions, cysts and growths which could not otherwise be visualized.


Image of dental imaging office