3D vs. 2D Imaging – Is the 2D Ceph Still Necessary? (Part 1)

By Matt Hendrickson, U.S. Orthodontic Director

3D images are an important tool in today’s orthodontic practice. However, capturing cephalometric images is critical for evaluating treatment in orthodontics. To ensure that you are getting the most reliable radiographs possible—and to streamline your practice workflow—it’s important to choose the right imaging system for your office. While there are a number of units on the market that can reconstruct a cephalometric image from a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan, these can take a toll on your workflow as well as introduce legal complications into your practice. Wise practitioners are implementing CBCT systems that give them the flexibility of both 2D and 3D imaging. Continue reading

Carestream Dental in the News: Dental Economics

As part of my regular column in Dental Economics, I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. David Little out of San Antonio, Texas. As an implant dentist, cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is very important when it comes to Dr. Little’s treatment planning and evaluation. However, his experience in selecting a unit was a little different than most dental professionals, as he operates a multi-disciplinary practice and had to consider the needs of all specialists during the buying process (spoiler alert: he ended up choosing the CS 9000 3D system).

Read the article in Dental Economics to learn more about how 3D imaging helped Dr. Little with:

  • diagnoses;
  • treatment planning;
  • practice return-on-investment; and
  • case acceptance.

Be sure to check back in June to read my interview with Dr. Mark Setter, a leading periodontist out of Metro Detroit.

CBCT and Accreditation

As dental professionals learn more about the many clinical uses of cone beam computed technology (CBCT) and the benefits of having an in-office system provides, the popularity of 3D imaging systems is growing—and with that, so are the requirements for accreditation. At the moment, the number of practices required to have CBCT accreditation is limited. Currently, it’s only necessary in situations where:

  •  the practice receives reimbursements for Medicare or Medicaid;
  • the practice is located in Minnesota; or
  • the practice is located in California.

Continue reading

CAD/CAM: Why Bring the Entire Restoration Process In-House?

I’ve been a big advocate for computer-aided restoration/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) restorations for a number of years; in fact, I have used several systems in my office during my quest to find the perfect solution for my needs. The reason for these efforts is due to the many benefits that performing restorations onsite has extended to my office, including:

  • improved patient care;
  • reduced lab and impression costs;
  • increased revenue;
  • the ability to have fun and be more creative in my practice!

Continue reading

Making the Case for 3D Imaging: Implant Practice

by Dr. Darrell Bourg

After being involved in a four wheeler accident, a 25-year-old male came into my implant dentistry practice complaining of pain in the upper left side of his mouth. Initially, I captured a 2D periapical image, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. Because of this, I decided to take a CBCT scan to get the bigger picture.

3D Image 1

Continue reading

Best Practices for Infection Control: Digital Radiography (DR) and Computed Radiography (CR)

An important consideration of digital radiography (DR) or computed radiography (CR) utilization is understanding how to “sanitize” your imaging technology to ensure that infection control standards are met.

As dentists, the health and safety of our patients is of paramount importance — not only for maintaining a trusting relationship with them, but also for shielding them from potential sources of cross contamination and possible infection.  For this reason, I would like to take a moment to address the best practices for infection control for digital intraoral sensors as well as phosphor plate systems.
Continue reading

Three Dimensional Basics: Pixels and Voxels

Most of us are already familiar with pixels; after all, one of the first questions that we may ask when picking out a digital camera or computer monitor is how many pixels it has.  When it comes to digital radiography, the pixels still apply, but are limited to two dimensional images, such as intraoral and extraoral radiographs. In three-dimensional radiography, such as CBCT imaging, the complimentary unit is referred to as voxel. Continue reading

Making the Case for 3D Imaging: Orthodontics

by Dr. John Dorsch

When one of my colleague’s staff members had concerns about her orthodontics and upcoming orthognathic surgery, he asked me if I would consult with her. During her appointment, we took comprehensive records—including a 3D CBCT image—and spoke at great length about her concerns, which included the length of treatment time, difficulty of closing lower bicuspid extraction space, and general questions on orthognathic surgery. At this point, I had only had my CBCT unit for one month. While I was focusing on the conventional full orthodontic records during the appointment, which appeared to be fairly normal, it wasn’t until later that day until I had more time to review the CBCT images. Continue reading

Three-Dimensional Basics: CT vs. CBCT

While speaking with my colleagues—and even patients—about 3D imaging, I am sometimes questioned about the difference between computed tomography (CT) and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT).  Since we are in the beginning stages of our series on 3D, I thought this would be a great time to compare the two technologies and discuss the benefits of incorporating CBCT into your practice. Continue reading

Three-Dimensional Basics: What’s the Difference between 2D and 3D Technology?

Whether it is in printing or imaging technology, 3D seems to be a frequently spoken of topic for many us. As an Oral and Maxillofacial radiologist, I certainly have my own opinions on the matter, and I am often asked to share them with my peers when speaking at conferences and seminars across the nation. To that end, I would like to tackle this topic in depth by covering every aspect of 3D—including what makes it different from 2D digital dental technology.

Although 3D imaging shouldn’t be used as a primary choice without analyzing the risks vs. benefits to patients, incorporating a 3D imaging system into your practice could provide several benefits, including:

  • Improved diagnoses and treatment planning – enhanced images allow you to see more than you can with 2D alone
  • Better patient communication – patients are more likely to comprehend with their diagnosis when the clinician can point out the problem on a more realistic 3D image rather than a static 2D image
  • Increased case acceptance – 3D imaging software allows you to map out treatment plans so patients can make better-informed decisions regarding their proposed treatment plan

Differences between 2D and 3D Images

While 2D radiographs are a static image taken of a specific area of interest, 3D imaging uses rotating cone shaped beams of X-rays to take images that are then reconstructed to form multiplanar images, cross sectionals and 3D surface renderings that have much higher sensitivity in diagnosing pathology. To break down the biggest differences between these two imaging forms, I created the table below:

Categories 2D Imaging 3D Imaging
Images Flat Image MPR & Cross-sectional images made up of multiple thin slices
Distinction of Structures Anatomical Structures are overlapped (superimpositions) Isolated visualization of structures
Clarity Distortions are possible Anatomical accuracy can be achieved
Image Manipulation Single image for manipulation DICOM stacks available for manipulation


The underlying theme when it comes to the differences between 2D imaging and 3D imaging is that 3D technology allows dental specialists to uncover critical information that could be subdued while 2D imaging is solely relied upon.

Have you incorporated 3D imaging into your practice yet? If so, what advice would you give others who are interested in this technology?