Interview with Dr. David Little

April 15, 2014
Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) has a number of clinical applications for different specialties -- and no one understands this more than Dr. David Little, a San Antonio-based dentist.

Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) has a number of clinical applications for different specialties -- and no one understands this more than Dr. David Little, a San Antonio-based dentist. While his practice primarily focuses on implant dentistry, a number of specialists also rotate through the office. We sat down to speak with Dr. Little about his experience with CBCT technology and his search for a 3D system that met all of his office's needs.

Dr. David Litttle

When you began looking for a CBCT unit for your practice, what were your initial criteria?

My practice houses specialists, including an orthodontist, a periodontist, an oral surgeon and an associate whose focus is endodontic therapy. Each specialty requires specific needs from a CBCT system. As such, the most important things we were looking for in a CBCT system were image quality and ease of use. In the end, we decided on the Carestream Dental's CS 9000 3D because it not only met these criteria, but it also allowed our team to take the exact images they needed while using less radiation.

How does CBCT impact diagnosis and treatment planning in your office?

From a purely diagnostic standpoint, it's great to be able to provide a solution for a patient who comes in and says, "I'm hurting, but I don't know where the pain is." If we take a 2D X-ray and don't really see anything, we can take a 3D X-ray image and say, "Oh, well there it is." It can be an extra canal, fracture, or an abscess that we couldn't see on the 2D image. Having that option is another really big benefit to using CBCT.

When it comes to implants, the ability to plan everything virtually has had a huge impact on my treatment planning abilities. CBCT, along with the software that goes with it, allows us to plan backwards. We begin with the restoration, so we're not guessing at things. We can have a really accurate treatment plan.

But that's just one part of it. When providing interdisciplinary care, CBCT also allows me to uncover important information when working with other specialists and ultimately improve treatment planning and patient care.

What are the attitudes of your patients toward CBCT imaging?

My patients are aware of my interest in technology, and they are used to my having the latest systems. But once they see what CBCT does, especially if we're codiagnosing a problem for their treatment plan, they understand the reason for my treatment proposal. I think patients are impressed by the fact that there is so much information available for their diagnoses, and there is a certain "wow" factor that comes with seeing all that we can discover with this technology.

What has the return on investment been like for you with CBCT?

Any time you look at technology, you have to consider the ROI. For me, it was a really easy decision because I knew how much I was outsourcing my images -- so calculating my ROI was fairly simple.

Of course, I also have to think way beyond ROI. At the end of the day, it's all about chair time and treating patients the best you can. Having all of the information that comes with CBCT translates into better diagnoses and less invasive surgeries. And that's where the real ROI comes in, with the time factor and the confidence of knowing exactly what you're dealing with.

Has it helped with case acceptance?

Oh, absolutely. I think it's great how, when you do a case presentation, you can sit down and show them what you're looking at in the three-dimensional world. It's also beneficial for implants, as we can pull the implant we plan on using from the library and show patients exactly what we're going to be doing during the procedure.

I think patients all of a sudden have a better appreciation that we're not just drilling a hole in their jaw. Rather, we're planning a case that involves doing the best thing for them.

Edward Shellard, DMD, has more than two decades of clinical and executive experience in the dental industry. Since joining Carestream Dental in February 2008, Dr. Shellard has driven global marketing strategy and product development efforts for the latest innovations in dental and practice management technology.

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