Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings of the Coastal Carolinas

Three-Dimensional Radiographs

by Jessica Shireman

Technological advances are constantly improving human health. One of the greatest advances in dentistry is the Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) machine which has allowed us to visualize the head, neck and teeth in three dimensions. CBCTs are useful in holistic dentistry because we can visualize infections around root canal-treated teeth and bony cavitations, place zirconia implants, and quantify airway volume.  

CBCT showing residual infection of root canal.

Root Canal-Treated Teeth

Often, root canal-treated teeth harbor pockets of gram-negative bacteria as residual infections which may not show up on two-dimensional radiographs, but are visible on three-dimensional scans (see photo above of an infected root canal—notice the dark shadow around the root of the lower molar). Cavitation lesions can also be visualized on these radiographs. Many patients on their journey towards optimal health are on a pathway to eliminate infections from their body and CBCT radiographs can determine the presence of residual infection so a patient can make an informed decision about how to treat the infection.  

CBCTs allow the proper placement of implants without impinging on other critical structures such as blood vessels and nerves. Implant biocompatibility has made some improvements in the last several years where there are non-metal options for implants. Titanium has more extensive research in the scientific literature, but there is an alternative, non-metal (zirconia) implant on the market. Patients that are sensitive to metals or have undergone biocompatibility testing may find that zirconia is the right option for them. Each individual needs to weight the health consequences, risks and benefits before making a decision about what option is right for them.  

Airway Volume Quantification

Do you breathe through your nose while you are sleeping? If not, you may have sleep-disordered breathing. Technology exists to address the root cause of sleep and breathing disorders and one of the first steps is three-dimensional assessment of the airway. Petite women and teenagers should have an airway volume around 20cm2 where most other adults should have around 25cm2.  The picture below shows a compressed airway (red) volume 11cm2 and poor tongue posture due to a tongue tie. Having an airway assessment and treatment with an mRNA or DNA appliance may greatly improve your quality of life. 

Signs of sleep-disordered breathing include mouth breathing, snoring, ADHD, teeth grinding, sleep apnea, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, fatigue, diabetes, bedwetting, headaches, anxiety and jaw pain.  

Three-dimensional radiographs allow us to make a better diagnosis of what type of treatments are best for patients in dentistry. The most modern machine on the market is about to take a radiograph with the same radiation exposure as three dental bitewings or less than hour of sun exposure. Consult with your dentist today if you have questions about these treatment options. We offer complimentary airway assessments and educational sessions at our practice. Please contact us if you are interested in attending.

Dr. Jessica Shireman, DMD, AIOMT, has been practicing holistic dentistry for several years in Raleigh and is excited to be in Wilmington. She has numerous patents and scientific publications, and is an active member of the IAOMT, the Holistic Dental Association and many online holistic groups. She believes the field is rapidly growing and changing, and she completes far more continuing education than required. She is currently studying the role of the oral cavity in airway health which affects overall health. Location: Wilmington Holistic Dentistry, 6200 Oleander Dr., Wilmington. For more information, call 910-777-4020 or visit See ad, page 10.