If you are wrestling with the idea of adding a new 3D imaging system to your practice, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What do I want to do with the information that the new system will provide?
- Am I interested in return on investment (ROI)? (Of course you are, but is there more to it than that—like broadening your skills as a clinician?)
- Am I expanding the capabilities of my practice in the future?
How you answer these questions can help you determine which field of view (FOV) is right for you and which imaging system best fits your needs.
What Do You Want to Do?
Is it endodontics? Implants? Airway analysis? Orthodontics? The following table can help you determine what to look for in an imaging solution.
|Field of View|
(5cm x 5cm)
(8cm x 9cm)
(up to 17 cm)
View one or two teeth at a time
Scan single and dual jaw; perform guided surgery
Evaluate: trauma cases; TMJ disorders; airway/sleep apnea disorders
(including, but not necessarily only implants)
Evaluate: ectopic and impacted teeth; third molars
|Assess TMJ, skeletal symmetry||X|
Evaluate airway, sleep apnea
Is Your Objective ROI?
If you are considering a shift to in-house imaging, ask yourself how many times per month you refer patients out for a scan. If your average is four or more, it may make sense to invest in a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) imaging system. In about a year or less, your system could pay for itself.*
Several national and international groups have developed recommendations regarding the use of CBCT in dentistry, including (but not limited to) the AAOMR in conjunction with the AAE and the SEDENTEXTCT project. As a result, CBCT has become an approved tool and standard of practice for diagnostic decisions and treatment. Recommendations stipulate that CBCT imaging should be part of diagnostic decisions and treatment.
Adding CBCT to your practice can increase ROI from:
- More referrals for cases that require CBCT imaging
- Performing more complex cases in-house (instead of referring them out) because of your enhanced diagnostic capabilities
- Increased treatment acceptance rates, due to improved case presentation
Do You Want to Enhance Your Diagnostic Capabilities?
Just be aware that you need to become proficient at evaluating your CBCT scans. You will definitely possess greater diagnostic power, but you’ll also have the liability that comes with it. If you scan more than the area of interest, you’re responsible for identifying any issues that come up within that entire area. When in doubt, rely on a radiologist to read the scan.
Are You Planning to Expand Your Practice?
Thinking of moving into an area that’s outside your current area of expertise? Considering the addition of another doctor whose expertise is different from your own? Your best bet is likely a system that enables you to add additional functionality in the future. For example, you could buy a panoramic system now and upgrade to a cephalometric and/or 3D system later. Keep in mind that a larger FOV system can also acquire smaller FOVs, which is ideal for a multi-specialty practice.
Taking the time to carefully consider your answers can help you make the imaging decision that’s best for your practice in the short and long term. You may have come up with a few considerations of your own, and if so, it’s immensely helpful to document those thoughts before you start the buying process. If you’d like to dive deeper into this subject, here’s a link to the Carestream Dental imaging system portfolio with recommendations for systems by specialty.