Three-dimensional diagnosis & treatment planning: The use of 3-D facial imaging and 3-D cone beam CT in orthodontics and dentistry

by William E. Harrell, Jr, DMD

Evaluating the “Anatomic Truth” of our patient’s anatomy in 3-D has traditionally been limited to evaluating the patient “live” in the chair and by the evaluations of dental study models (either plaster or 3-D digital representations). New 3-D technologies (3-D facial scanning and 3-D cone beam CBCT – also known as Conebeam Volumetric Tomography (CVCT) are just beginning to be introduced into the dental and orthodontic communities in order to evaluate the three dimensional anatomic relationships of the patient’s true anatomy. The 4th dimension, which is time, consists of evaluating the three-dimensional relationships as they change over time. This could be in “real time” such as function, para-function, chewing, smiling, etc. or “over a period of time” which could be days, weeks, months or years, such as aging, degenerative changes, traumatic changes, surgical changes, etc.

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