1. Dent Clin N Am 52 (2008) 809–823 Cone-Beam CT: Applications in Orthodontics Steven L. Hechler, DDS, MS 12800 Metcalf Avenue, Suite 1, Overland Park, KS 66213, USA Orthodontists have routinely treated patients’ malocclusions by applyingforces in all three planes of space. The movement of alveolar bone may beaccomplished in two directions: in a transverse direction, using a rapid max-illary expansion appliance, or in a sagittal direction, using a headgear orHerbst appliance. Tooth movement alone may also be accomplished usingarchwires and elastics, as evidenced by the vertical movement of teeth usingvertical or box interarch elastics. For years, these three-dimensional (3D)movements have been diagnosed and treatment planned based on two-dimensional (2D) imaging. Cephalometric, panoramic, and periapicalradiographs are a few of the 2D radiographs routinely used in orthodonticplanning. Although these images have been the standard of care and are use-ful in assessing skeletal and dental relationships, their 2D diagnostic infor-mation can leave some questions unanswered in selected cases. This articlediscusses the application of cone-beam CT (CBCT) in various orthodontictasks, from simple to more advanced. It also takes a glimpse into the futureto determine how CBCT may become a normal part of high-tech orthodon-tic treatment.Common diagnostic radiographs Cephalometric radiology was introduced to orthodontics in 1931 byBroadbent in the United States and Hofrath in Germany. They developedstandardized methods for obtaining these radiographs using cephalostatsto facilitate reproducible head positioning for ﬁlms taken at diﬀerent timepoints . These cephalometric radiographs are heavily relied on byorthodontists today to measure angular and linear dimensions using variousanatomic landmarks. ‘‘Cephalometric’’ images constructed from CBCT E-mail address: email@example.com/08/$ - see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.cden.2008.05.001 dental.theclinics.com
2. 810 HECHLERscans have been shown to be as accurate as, or in some cases more accuratethan, conventional 2D lateral cephalometric radiographs . Additionally,lateral cephalometric radiographs constructed from the CBCT scans canuse the information from the right and/or left half of the skull. Constructingthese images using one half of the skull can overcome the problem facedwith superimposition of the right and left ramus, body, molars, and mandib-ular condyles. The panoramic radiograph was ﬁrst proposed and experimented with inthe 1930s by Dr. H. Numata of Japan. In the mid-1940s, the father of pan-oramic radiography, Dr. Yrjo Veli Paatero of Finland, reﬁned the pano-ramic technique . Since then, 2D panoramic radiography has beenfurther reﬁned and brought to a level previously unattained. The imagesmade with these modern digital panoramic machines are clear and diagnos-tic; however, positioning errors and arch and teeth variations may have aneﬀect on diagnostic eﬃcacy. CBCT scans allow an inﬁnite number of focaltroughs to be speciﬁed and reformatted, compensating for arch variations.Also, separate ‘‘panoramic’’ radiographs can be obtained from the CBCTdata, focusing on the maxillary arch and the mandible. Linear and angulardimensions have been shown to be more accurate using the CBCT pano-ramic images, compared with traditional panoramic radiographs, which isalso true when viewing the condyles . Several other views, projectional and tomographic, are used in orthodon-tics, but not as frequently. Most of these images can be reconstructed fromthe CBCT data if a CBCT scan has been acquired. The contribution of CBCT in various diagnostic tasks is discussed in thefollowing paragraphs.Impacted canines Possibly the most recognized need for CBCT imaging in orthodontics isthat of impacted canine evaluation. The prevalence of impacted maxillarycanines is approximately 0.9% to 3.0% [5,6]. The ratio of palatal to labialimpactions has been shown to be as high as 9:1 . Studies have been carriedout relating the position of the impacted canine to the success of uncoveryand orthodontic traction [8–10]. In the past, orthodontists have used the tube shift technique to comparetwo periapical radiographs taken at diﬀerent beam angles to determine thefacial/lingual position of the impacted canine. This same lingual, oppositebuccal rule is helpful in determining whether the impacted canine is labialor lingual to the incisor roots; however, the degree of displacement is diﬃ-cult to determine. CBCT imaging is precise in determining not only thelabial/lingual relationship but also a more exact angulation of the impactedcanine. These 3D images are beneﬁcial in determining the proximity ofadjacent incisor and premolar roots, which can be invaluable in determiningthe ease of uncovering and bonding and the vector of force that should be
3. CONE-BEAM CT 811used to move the tooth into the arch with a lesser chance of adjacent rootresorption. A standard periapical radiograph of an impacted maxillary left canine(#11) is shown in Fig. 1A. This single ﬁlm gives limited information aboutcanine position or possible adjacent root resorption. The palatal locationof the canine is obvious in the axial view of the CBCT scan using Dolphin3D (Dolphin Imaging and Management Solutions, Chatsworth, California),in Fig. 1B. A view of the proximity of the canine to the central incisor (#9) isshown in the CBCT sagittal transparent hard tissue image in Fig. 1C. Thetwo teeth are not in contact with one another, and no resorption is evidenton the central incisor. A diﬀerent type of image using the same Dolphin 3Dsoftware and CBCT data package is seen in Fig. 1D. This view shows themuch closer relationship of the same canine to the adjacent lateral incisor(#10). No root resorption is obvious in the images. The uncovery, bonding,and direction of force vector for #11 is enhanced signiﬁcantly by the knowl-edge supplied to the oral surgeon and orthodontist.Fig. 1. (A) Periapical radiograph displaying an impacted tooth #11. (B) CBCT axial imageshowing the palatal position of tooth #11. (C) CBCT image of the relationship between teeth# 9 and #11. (D) Sagittal CBCT image displaying the proximity of #11 to the root of #10.
4. 812 HECHLER One should note that the four views in Fig. 1 are all static images madefrom a 3D CBCT scan. Using software like Dolphin 3D, the doctor canrotate the 3D skull, allowing for cuts at various angles to aid in visualiza-tion. The plane of view can be moved through the entire skull in all threeaxes of space. Some clinicians are now suggesting that tissue and bony un-covery of the signiﬁcantly palatally displaced and impacted canines withoutorthodontic traction would allow these teeth to drift into the oral cavityspontaneously; they then may be bonded some months later by the ortho-dontist . The enhanced knowledge of canine position supplied by theCBCT scans will aid the orthodontist as he or she determines whether tosimply uncover the palatally impacted canine or apply immediate traction.Other impacted teeth Various other teeth become impacted less often than canines but still posea signiﬁcant orthodontic challenge. Maxillary central incisors can beimpacted and displaced subsequent to the presence of a mesiodens. Fig. 2shows a CBCT image of an impacted tooth # 9 subsequent to such a mesio-dens. Never before have we been able to determine such an exact position ofthese displaced and impacted central incisors. The position of these teethand the root and crown morphology can be evaluated. This knowledgecan help determine the desirability of retaining and placing traction on theseimpacted teeth. Many times, the orthodontist is the ﬁrst to recognize thepresence of supernumerary teeth or odontomas in the young patient.Two-dimensional radiographs, especially panoramic ones, can make deﬁni-tive diagnosis of an early-forming supernumerary tooth diﬃcult. The CBCTimage allows a more exacting view to help determine the presence andposition of these unwanted surprises.Fig. 2. CBCT image showing a mesiodens (arrow) that has deviated the maxillary left centralincisor to a horizontal position.
5. CONE-BEAM CT 813 Second molars can also become impacted and malpositioned, which canbe caused by ectopically positioned adjacent third molars or second molarfollicles that are inexplicably tipped in an oblique or horizontal orientation.If impinging third molars are not diagnosed and extracted appropriately,temporary or permanent delay in the eruptions of the second molars canbe the result. Early diagnosis of these problems can lead to a signiﬁcantlybetter prognosis of acceptable second molar eruption lending itself to ortho-dontic positioning on entry into the oral cavity. The author has found noother technique to compare with the diagnostic ability of the CBCT imagein these situations. Fig. 3 shows a deviantly positioned third molar (#16)that was inhibiting proper eruption of tooth #15. At times, the orthodontist desires to reposition the maxillary anteriorteeth slightly in a ﬁrst phase of treatment. On viewing the records, a mesio-dens can be an unanticipated ﬁnding. If the oral surgeon wants to leave thismesiodens, and postpone its removal until a later date, the position of themesiodens can be important. Delaying tooth movement must be consideredif the mesiodens is in close proximity to the roots of the incisors. The ortho-dontist may pursue limited movement without signiﬁcant fear of complica-tions if the mesiodens in question is some distance from the roots. Usingthese images, the orthodontist and oral surgeon can combine their knowl-edge to establish a treatment plan that directs attention to the timing ofmesiodens removal.Root resorption Most root resorption involved in orthodontic treatment can be readilyviewed on periapical radiographs. However, resorption that occurs on theFig. 3. Coronal CBCT image showing a deviantly positioned maxillary third molar (#16)inhibiting eruption of the second molar (#15).
6. 814 HECHLERfacial or lingual side of the tooth is diﬃcult to ascertain and quantify withthis 2D view. CBCT scanning allows for better viewing of resorption oneither of these surfaces . However, the most important relationship ofCBCT imaging to root resorption may be that of determining maxillarycanine eruption position and its possible relationship with future spontane-ous resorption of the adjacent lateral and central incisors. Removal of thedeciduous canine adjacent to the impacted permanent canine has beenshown to be eﬀective if accomplished early . Routine CBCT imagingof the young patient for no apparent reason may be considered an inappro-priate and excessive use of radiation. However, if one sees imminent dangerof resorption because of deviant canines on other ﬁlms such as panoramic orperiapical radiographs, a follow-up CBCT image may be advisable.Fractured roots In the past, periapical radiographs have proved to be the best diagnosticimages for evaluating a patient for fractured roots. To view these fracturesradiographically may be diﬃcult if the fracture is in an oblique direction andnot parallel to the beam of radiation supplying the radiograph image. Peri-apical radiographs can be diﬃcult to take immediately post trauma becauseof swelling, bleeding, and discomfort experienced by these patients. On thecontrary, CBCT scans can be acquired quickly and the teeth of interest may beviewed from various angles and directions. The ability to view the cut ofa single tooth of interest in the three planes of space makes determining ifthe involved tooth displays fracture much easier. The CBCT image of a youngman originally thought to have undergone fracture of only tooth #8 whenviewing the posttraumatic periapical radiograph is displayed in Fig. 4.Further review of the CBCT image also indicated an oblique fracture ofFig. 4. (A) CBCT sagittal image displaying a horizontal root fracture of the maxillary rightcentral incisor (#8). (B) Image of #9 showing an oblique root fracture.
7. CONE-BEAM CT 815tooth #9. Not only the presence of root fracture but also the degree ofdisplacement can be readily evaluated. Attempted movement of posttrau-matic teeth with undiagnosed root fractures can greatly complicate theorthodontist’s success in dealing with these cases. Moving the crownswhile leaving the roots behind is never the desired outcome of orthodontictreatment.Orthodontic temporary anchorage device placement The temporary anchorage device (TAD) has gained popularity of late foruse in orthodontic treatment. Many tooth movements that were mechani-cally diﬃcult to accomplish in the past have become achievable with theuse of these mini-implants. The placement of TADs by the orthodontist isbecoming more common, although TADs will continue to be placed bythe oral surgeon. In either case, the knowledge of the root positioning cangreatly enhance the opportunity for proper placement and success ofTADs . CBCT images allow more accurate and dependable views ofthe interradicular relationships than panoramic radiographs . Theseimages allow not only more successful placement but also better treatmentplanning of where these TADs should be placed so that proper force vectorscan be used during orthodontic treatment. CBCT data can be used to con-struct placement guides for positioning mini-implants between the roots ofadjacent teeth in anatomically diﬃcult sites . The quality of the bone in the proposed placement sites can be evaluatedbefore insertion of the mini-implants. Quantifying the thickness of the pal-atal bone can aid in determining the size and location of any TADs that maybe treatment planned for the palate. CBCT images have been shown to bean accurate way to assess the volume of bone present at the proposed loca-tion . The use of TADs will continue to increase in orthodontics, andretention of these mini-implants will be important to the successful outcomeof treatment. The number of orthodontists using CBCT scans and TADswill increase signiﬁcantly in the near future because these are common topicsin the orthodontic literature and at seminars throughout the country.Asymmetry evaluation It can be diﬃcult to evaluate the bony asymmetry of orthodontic patientsusing cephalometric and panoramic radiographs. Superimposition of struc-tures, patient positioning, and distortion can be frustrating and unreliable.For instance, the comparison of the condyle and ramus lengths can beimportant to the occlusion of an orthodontic patient. Direct measurementscan be made of these structures with CBCT imaging by comparing the rightand left sides. Evaluation of mandibular asymmetry by way of CBCT imag-ing eliminates positioning problems. Imaging can provide measurements of
8. 816 HECHLERmandibular anatomy either through 2D panoramic reconstructions or theentire 3D data package . Software companies are adding the ability toextract (segment) the mandible or maxilla from the CBCT image and eval-uate the bone independent of the other structures. In addition, the unilateral nature of posterior crossbites can be diagnosedmore speciﬁcally. The determination as to the presence of a truly unilateralcrossbite versus one subsequent to a shift of the mandible into centric occlu-sion can be enhanced. A determination of an asymmetric maxilla or mandi-ble can be accomplished more easily by viewing and measuring the bones in3D. The orthodontist can view these structures in various angulations usingthe data taken in only one scan instead of using numerous 2D radiographicviews.Temporomandibular joint degenerative changes Panoramic radiography is an acceptable initial tool for the assessmentof temporomandibular joint (TMJ) osseous structures. But because of theknown limitations of panoramic radiography, the absence of radiographicﬁndings in a symptomatic patient does not rule out obscured osseous changes;moreover, radiographic ﬁndings, if present, may not be revealed in full. Conventional tomography has been used extensively for the evaluation ofTMJ hard tissues; however, technique sensitivity and the length of the exam-inations made it a less attractive diagnostic tool for the dental practitioner.CBCT images not only can be taken in the oﬃce but also viewed from manydiﬀerent angles and from an almost inﬁnite number of slices. CBCT imagesof the TMJ have been shown to provide greater reliability and accuracy thantomographic or panoramic views in detecting condylar erosions . Withtemporomandibular dysfunction continuing to be a haunting pathology insome orthodontic cases, it is important to view the anatomy of thesepatients’ joints carefully before, during, and after orthodontic treatment.Follow-up CBCT images made over an extended period of time can beimportant to the orthodontist in evaluating the process of any degenerativechanges that he or she may suspect. Current software solutions allow thevisualization of TMJ osseous elements isolated (segmented) from othersurrounding structures.Cleft lip and palate Estimates of the size (dimensions) of the osseous defects and the spatialrelationship of the defect to other important anatomic structures are diﬃ-cult to obtain in 2D images. CBCT can provide the cleft’s exact anatomicrelationships and bone thickness around the existing teeth in proximity tothe cleft or clefts. This information is invaluable for the grafting proce-dures planned and for possible tooth movement in the existing dentition(Fig. 5).
9. CONE-BEAM CT 817Fig. 5. Axial CBCT image of a patient who has a unilateral cleft and missing centralincisor (#8).Soft tissue In the past, soft tissue evaluation was diﬃcult using 2D photographs andradiographs. The patient’s proﬁle has been the most common soft tissueprojection evaluated using photographs and lateral cephalometric radio-graphs. The proﬁle is visualized using photographs; however, tracings andlandmark analysis of the proﬁle are quantiﬁed using the soft tissue observedon the lateral cephalometric radiograph. Although the proﬁle is used byevery orthodontist, many practitioners realize that patients seldom see theirproﬁle and are usually interested in the frontal view, which they are moreapt to spend time viewing in the mirror. This view is also the one seen byothers during day-to-day conversations. Frontal photographs are used to judge symmetry, but without numerousviews from diﬀerent angles, it is diﬃcult to gain a good feel of facial symme-try. Using the soft tissue data gathered in the CBCT scan, it is possible torotate and tilt the head in an inﬁnite number of positions to evaluate sym-metry of the soft tissue. The positioning of the nose, the alar base fullness,and the inferior border of the mandible are only a few of the items easilystudied. Surface area and volume analysis will surely be used in the futureto aid in evaluating facial symmetry. It is diﬃcult to gain a good view of the nose with some CBCT machines be-cause this area is at the edge of the image package. The author has found itmuch easier to gain good soft tissue imaging of the nose in younger individ-uals rather than in adults. The larger the nose, the less reliable the imagecan be. Recently, various companies have oﬀered photographic imagingpackages to coordinate with the CBCT data, using multiple camera locations.These systems are not widely used, but their use may increase as the cost de-creases. Anatomage (Anatomage Inc., San Jose, California) currently hasa process to take a common 2D digital facial photograph and map it to theCBCT image without the use of numerous cameras.
10. 818 HECHLERAirway Using lateral cephalometric radiographs, the orthodontist may evaluatethe airway in a 2D manner. Many studies have been accomplished and var-ious analyses established in this way [19–21]. All this evaluation, however, islimited by the fact that we are looking at a ﬂat projection seen in a sagittalor coronal plane. A 3D view of the airway can be readily available withCBCT imaging. Using CBCT images ﬁltered to show airway, it is possibleto quantify the volume of the airway and sinuses. The most constrictedlocation of the airway can be found, and the axial view of this region canbe quantiﬁed (Fig. 6). Orthodontists who are keenly interested in studyingthe patient’s airway will surely continue to enhance the analyses that areavailable using the 3D information.Future uses for cone-beam CT Technology is constantly changing, and new applications arise almostdaily. As of this writing, the following items give a glimpse of what maybe available in the near future.Virtual models Plaster casts have been used in orthodontics for more than 100 years.They have been used to evaluate the patient’s alignment, arch width, occlu-sion, tooth mass, and soft tissue. Smaller voxel size and innovative softwarehave led to the ability to reconstruct virtual orthodontic study modelsFig. 6. CBCT airway view displaying the volume of the airway and sinuses. The most con-stricted region has been located and the minimum axial area calculated. (Courtesy of DolphinImaging and Management Solutions, Chatsworth, CA; with permission.)
11. CONE-BEAM CT 819without the need to obtain alginate impressions, which seems to be one ofthe most undesirable aspects of orthodontic treatment for our patients.CBCT data can be used to produce 3D models without the need foralginate impressions . These virtual models can be composed with orwithout roots evident (Fig. 7). For many orthodontists, the presence ofroots could be a major improvement over commonly used plaster casts,which only display the crowns. Also, these virtual models can be studiedand measurements made on the computer, as is possible with those fabri-cated currently by the OrthoCad system (Cadent, Inc., Carlstadt, New Jer-sey) using impressions. If ‘‘hardcopy’’ models are needed, these can befabricated from wax, starch, and plaster, using rapid prototyping technol-ogy .Invisalign The Invisalign (Align Technology, Santa Clara, California) tooth move-ment system was introduced to orthodontics in 1999. A series of clear ther-moplastic trays are used to gain the desired tooth movement. Theseremovable, computer-generated trays are changed every 2 weeks until thedesired alignment and occlusion are gained. Currently, the orthodontistsupplies the Invisalign laboratory polyvinyl siloxane impressions anda bite registration. The laboratory uses a computer linked to a destructivescanner to assemble this information into 3D renderings of the patient’steeth. These virtual models are adjusted on a computer per the orthodon-tist’s detailed prescription of tooth movement. Once approved, theFig. 7. Virtual models constructed from CBCT data without alginate impressions. (Courtesy ofAnatomage Inc., San Jose, CA. Available at: http://www.anatomage.com. Accessed June 27,2008; with permission.)
12. 820 HECHLERcomputer images are converted to ‘‘hardcopy’’ models using stereolithogra-phy and the clear trays are fabricated from these models . It may be possible in the future to execute the entire fabrication processof the aligners using CBCT digital data. The CBCT images could be used tocreate the virtual models, thus negating the need to take and mail impres-sions and a bite registration. This information could be transferred electron-ically to certain laboratories (eg, Align Technologies), and the desiredvirtual tooth movement can be accomplished by way of e-mail communica-tion between the orthodontist and the laboratory. Even the retainers couldbe fabricated by the data in the laboratory computer database of the ﬁnaltooth positions.Indirect bonding of brackets Indirect bonding of ﬁxed orthodontic brackets is used by many ortho-dontists to place these brackets on the teeth more accurately. Currently,in this technique, brackets are adhered to accurate stone models in thedesired position. This bracket set-up is then transferred from the modelsto the patient using various types of trays and composite material. This lab-oratory fabrication is done either in the orthodontic oﬃce or at an outsidefacility. Construction of ‘‘hardcopy’’ models from the CBCT images couldallow this indirect bonding to occur in either of these laboratory sites.If accomplished in an outside laboratory, the digital image could be elec-tronically transferred to this laboratory with no pouring up or mailing ofimpressions involved. The same CBCT ﬁle used for the virtual modelsdescribed earlier could be used for the indirect bonding procedure. Thus,patients could forgo two sets of the impressions they may dread.Insignia The Insignia process (Ormco Corporation, Orange, California) uses 3Dimaging data and precision manufacturing to custom make orthodonticbrackets and wires for an individual patient. Using an accurate impressiontaken by the orthodontist, the Insignia laboratory digitally constructs a vir-tual model of the teeth using specialized 3D scanners. Insignia softwareintegrates these precision images with the orthodontist’s prescription to cal-culate the optimum alignment and occlusion. The bracket for each tooth isthen custom fabricated, taking into account the shape of the labial surfaceof the tooth and its root angulation and overall anatomy. An indirect bond-ing transfer mechanism is then fabricated so that each bracket may beplaced at a speciﬁc location on each individual tooth. Wires are fabricatedby the laboratory to work closely with the custom brackets to supply thedesired orthodontic tooth movement. It is anticipated that an accurate CBCT scan will replace the impressioncurrently taken by the doctor. Ormco states that beta testing of the Insignia
13. CONE-BEAM CT 821project in the clinical setting will begin sometime in 2008. Two of the biggestobstacles in taking such a leap (use of CBCT images for this type of fabri-cation) include patient motion and metallic artifacts (image deteriorationdue to presence of metal restorations), both of which may signiﬁcantly aﬀectthe image quality, and thus the accuracy, of the virtual models that would beused during the Insignia process. According to the manufacturer, the avail-able software would require the CBCT data to have been acquired witha voxel size between 0.05 and 0.07 mm, which is not oﬀered yet by CBCTtechnologies.Suresmile Suresmile technology (OraMetrics, Inc., Richardson, Texas) uses the pre-cision wire-bending capability of robots, combined with digital 3D scanningof teeth, computer simulation, and special wire materials to facilitate ortho-dontic tooth movement in an accurate fashion. This system uses a hand-held, 3D white-light scanning device to gain a virtual image of the patient’sdentition. This procedure, done either through intraoral scanning or scan-ning of dental models, can be achieved with or without orthodontic bracketsin place. These virtual images, along with the orthodontic prescription, arethen used to position the dentition in its most aligned and interdigitatedstate. Wires are made by the Suresmile robot from a high-tech and ﬂexiblematerial to reposition the teeth orthodontically to the desired occlusion andalignment. Additional scans are usually taken during treatment to reﬁne thetooth movement. OraMetrics has been clinically beta testing the use of CBCT imaging tosupply the virtual images of the teeth since the latter half of 2007. Voxelsize of 0.2 mm or smaller is necessary to use this technology accurately.The accuracy of CBCT images in the Suresmile system again may be aﬀectedby patient motion and artifacts. Current software cannot adequately imageall types of orthodontic brackets because of their composition. Plasticbrackets seem to be the most diﬃcult to visualize in CBCT scans. In thefuture, CBCT images could take the place of current orthodontic impres-sions and white-light scanning.Summary Orthodontists have used an arsenal of radiographs to diagnose and treat-ment plan their patients’ cases carefully. Cephalometric, panoramic, periap-ical, and other radiographs have generally been 2D representations of 3Danatomic structures. CBCT oﬀers a 3D image that can be used to aid inorthodontic tooth movement in all three planes of space. The use ofCBCT data in the near future will change the way records are taken andtreatment is rendered. Taking, pouring, or mailing impressions may become
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