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Advanced 3D imaging tools for everyday dental work

Modern dentistry relies on pre-operative patient examination and pre-planning of dental operations to an increasing extent. Digital 3D imaging and the latest software and application solutions from Planmeca offer a major step forward in improving the quality of dental care, increasing patient safety, and shortening operation and recovery times.

Planmeca’s product development focuses on innovative, all-inclusive solutions that can be customised for a wide range of dental practise needs. In the area of three-dimensional imaging, Planmeca offers a unique set of products and services based on its advanced technologies.

The company’s 3D imaging concept, with three different X-ray unit models, its dedicated software for storing and processing X-ray images, and the ability of its systems to generate 3D image-based physical models of a patient’s anatomy make dental workflow much more efficient by providing clear visualisation of the areas of most interest.

The three models in the Planmeca ProMax 3D family are based on the same platform and use a range of high-tech solutions to reduce patient radiation dose significantly. The 3D units utilise Cone Beam Volumetric Tomography (CBVT) technology, in which a pyramid-shaped beam scans the entire region of interest in a single semicircular scan, as opposed to conventional two-dimensional computed tomography (CT) imaging, which takes axial slices in multiple full-circle scans.

Using a pulsed X-ray for scanning purposes reduces exposure time to a couple of seconds, and the patient radiation dose is significantly lower than that of traditional CT imaging devices using continuous radiation. The entire imaging procedure is also much easier and faster.

One platform, several imaging options

A 3D image reveals patient anatomy in much more detail than a traditional 2D one. Any image plane of a projection can be formed from 3D data without loss of information or resolution, or distortion.

Where the three Planmeca ProMax 3D units differ from each other is in terms of the size of their imaging sensor. This allows dentists to choose the size that best suits their diagnostic requirements, while protecting the patient from unnecessary excess radiation. Sensor sizes – and imaging areas – vary from a single tooth to the entire maxillofacial region.

Three-dimensional tomography is used in several fields of dentistry, including implantology, dental and maxillofacial surgery, endodontics, orthodontics, and TMJ analysis. It can also be useful in diagnosing ear, maxillary sinus, and respiratory tract diseases. Planmeca’s units also offer traditional twodimensional panoramic and cephalometric imaging.

Revealing the details

Advanced 3D imagery requires powerful viewing software to ensure that the details it offers can be navigated easily and to record medical findings in 3D. The role of software is all the more important, as interpreting a 3D image is more challenging and calls for closer communication between treatment experts compared to a traditional 2D image, in which medical findings are immediately visible to a single trained eye.

The advanced, easy-to-use Planmeca Romexis software suite provides a rich set of tools to meet this challenge. The streamlined tools and workflows it offers for each stage of patient work makes it easy for all members of staff to make use of its potential. The software supports a number of different diagnosis and treatment planning options, ranging from general dentistry to highly specialised operations such as planning difficult treatment procedures or implant placement.

Developed using the latest software design principles, Planmeca Romexis provides excellent management solutions for small clinics and large hospitals, as well as for radiology centres. The software offers robust scalability, high-level security, and industry-standard integration with hospital systems; and is available on multiple computing platforms, including Windows and Mac OS X.

Making 3D images ‘real’

By reproducing patient anatomy at real size, Planmeca ProModel makes the visualisation of acquired 3D images as effective as possible. Starting with a 3D image, Planmeca Romexis software can be used to draw nerves, implants, and other regions of interests on to the image. An ordering option is built right into the software, and models can be delivered globally in just a few days.

The photorealistic bone visualisation provided by Planmeca Romexis software, combined with Planmeca ProModel, takes dentist-patient communication to a new level.
Models are manufactured from high-performance powder in a geometrically free process using 3D printing or laser sintering. Powder particles are bound together layer-by-layer until the model is completed and finished with a sealant.

Models correspond to patient anatomy very accurately, providing users with valuable information on the anatomical details of their patients. Using a model, it is possible to measure distances, bend reconstruction plates, draw operational lines, as well as saw and drill the region of interest to rehearse the actual workflow of an operation – all of which will help enhance the accuracy of surgery and shorten operating time, yielding lower costs and enhanced patient recovery times.

A leader in dental practice solutions

Headquartered in Helsinki, Planmeca Oy designs, manufactures, and markets a full line of high-tech dental equipment in the form of dental X-ray and digital imaging products, dental care units, and dedicated imaging software and applications. Planmeca Oy is the world’s largest privately owned company in the dental business, and is the parent company of the Planmeca Group, which employs approximately 2,300 people worldwide and had an estimated turnover of €600 million in 2009. 

Why is 3D better than 2D?

  • Easier imaging procedure
  • Better resolution
  • No distortions mean that measurements are more reliable
  • More descriptive images.
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)