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New Technology at Dental Branch Gives Better, Safer Images
The Orthodontics Department at the UT Dental Branch is now one of the few dental schools in the U.S. with digital radiography technology capable of delivering 3-D images of the facial skeleton in only 14 seconds.
The newly arrived Sirona Galileos 3-D Conebeam X-ray imaging system delivers answers for orthodontists and emits less radiation than with conventional full mouth X-rays.
“That’s the beauty of it … less radiation,” said Jeryl English, D.D.S., chairman and professor of orthodontics, noting that use of the Conebeam scanner will now be part of UT orthodontics training program.
Patients stand with their faces and chins against a metal arm as the scanner rotates around them. A single scan replaces two-dimensional radiographs such as cephalometric, panoramic, occlusal and joint tomograms.
English and Chung H. Kau, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor in orthodontics, are enthusiastic about the many uses of 3-D radiography that instantly puts X-ray images on a computer screen – eliminating the need for film, developer or bulky storage spaces.
“With this technology, we can assess teeth in all cross sections. We can evaluate how much bone is
around a specific tooth and whether it’s enough to support an implant placement,” Kau said. “We can also assess bone grafts and ectopic teeth.”
On a computer screen, comparing the exact measurements of an implant with the intended site in the patient’s mouth is easy. “Being able to compare them on the computer eliminates much of the estimating orthodontists often have to do,” English said, citing other examples of how the new technology might be used.
“We can use this to find out whether a patient has extra teeth. In the past, we’ve had to guess where they are,” he said. “Impacted canine teeth occur in one of 100 patients, and by the time they’re diagnosed, the adjacent teeth have often been damaged. With this equipment, we can see the extra teeth in a single scan and plan treatment interventions.”
The Galileos Conebeam scanner was provided to UT Dental Branch as part of a $200,000 research contract, and the principal investigators are English and Kau. The infrastructure costs and the accompanying software were sponsored by The Orthodontic Alumni Foundation and Dean Catherine M. Flaitz, D.D.S.
English said the manufacturer, Sirona Dental Systems, relies on the Department of Orthodontics at the UT Dental Branch as a beta test site. The Galileos Conebeam will be made available to all departments in the Dental Branch in the coming months.
By Rhonda Moran, Dental Branch
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