Procedures

Dental CT (computed tomography)

Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging offers dental CT (computed tomography) imaging services, providing dentists and oral surgeons with 3D images to aid in planning implant procedures.

Dental CT images

Scheduling

Same-day appointments are available. For dental CT scans performed before 3 pm, dentists can expect delivery of processed images by 10:30 am the following business day.

Patients: A referral from a dentist is necessary to make an appointment. Patients who already have a referral may call the Waltham, Chelsea, or Worcester locations directly.

Dentists: Please use this dental CT fax order form to request a dental CT exam for your patients.

Contact Us

For questions about this service, please contact Michelle Hazel Dean at 617-643-2494. To contact our 3D Imaging Lab, please call 617-724-3667.

Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides dental CT imaging at Mass General West Imaging – Waltham, Mass General Imaging – Chelsea, and Mass General Imaging – Worcester.  Same-day appointments are available. For scans performed before 3 pm, dentists can expect delivery of processed 3D images by 10:30 am the following business day.

Dental CT overview:

  • A CT scanner rotates to take X-ray images from different angles. A computer puts these images together to form detailed, two-dimensional pictures.
  • Our 3D Imaging Lab uses the two-dimensional images to create detailed three-dimensional pictures that help dental surgeons plan and carry out implant procedures.
  • Exams typically take 15 minutes in total; the actual scanning takes just minutes.
  • The technologist performing your exam will be nearby and able to talk to you throughout the scan.

Dental CT in depth

What is a dental CT scan?

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied.

Traditional panoramic X-rays performed by dentists provide only a limited two-dimensional view. While they can show the height and contour of the jaw bone, they give no indication of the bone width and density and may distort the location of the alveolar nerve.

State-of-the-art, three-dimensional dental CT imaging takes the guesswork out of implants. This quick and safe diagnostic imaging exam produces life-like spatial views of the mouth that let the surgeon determine pre-surgically if a patient is an implant candidate. With 3D imaging, a surgeon can proceed with confidence, knowing the amount of bone a patient has, the distance to the alveolar nerve and the exact angles to situate the implant.

Safety

The radiation used in a dental CT exam is significantly lower than in a conventional CT scan. Learn about Mass General Imaging's commitment to minimizing radiation exposure.

When should I consider dental CT imaging?

Dental CT imaging is used when patients are being fitted for implants. The more information a surgeon has about the anatomy of the patient's mouth before a dental implant, the better the outcome. Important measurements for the surgeon to know include the width and density of the jawbone ridge in order to assess implant feasibility and the exact placement of the alveolar nerve in order to prevent painful nerve damage. Dental CT imaging can also help visualize nerve location prior to wisdom tooth extraction.

What should I expect BEFORE dental CT imaging?

Dental CT imaging is not covered by insurance. Therefore payment is expected at the time of the study. All payment options are accepted, except for American Express and Discover cards. If your dentist has supplied you with an appliance to wear during the scan, please make sure to bring the appliance with you and be comfortable with how it is to be positioned during the study. Remove any non-fixed dentures, prostheses and jewelry that may interfere with the area being scanned.

What should I expect DURING dental CT imaging?

A dental CT scan does not require a contrast injection, and the entire exam takes about 15 minutes. The technologist will position your body so that the biting surface of your teeth is parallel to the CT scanning plane. Normal breathing is acceptable but it is important for you to lie very still.

What should I expect AFTER dental CT imaging?

You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities. After the exam, our 3D imaging staff produces three-dimensional images, which provide the surgeon with valuable data crucial to the success of the implant. These images are sent directly to your surgeon.

 

Webster Center takes on radiation-dose reduction

Dr. James H. Thrall, Department of Radiology chairman emeritus, discusses The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation, a unique research effort dedicated to reducing radiation dose for every exam Mass General Imaging performs.

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Schedule an exam at Mass General Imaging

Find scheduling information for patients and referring physicians.

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Radiation safety

Learn how Mass General Imaging works to increase patient safety by reducing radiation exposure.