When a patient requires orthodontic treatment, it is common practice to capture their dental placement with a radiograph. Scientists from the Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany have now published a study in which an alternative treatment plan without radiation exposure was investigated. The study showed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology can provide accurate images of craniofacial structures.
The researchers were able to prove that landmarks (important anatomical points in the upper and lower jaws) can be measured with MRI as accurately as with radiographs. Study lead Prof. Martin Bendszus said: “Compared with the radiographs, we had very small differences, within the usual acceptable standard deviations. However, the great advantage of MRI is that it doesn’t require any radiation exposure”.
In the study, 20 participants between the ages of eight and 26 were examined and received an MRI scan and a radiograph. A comparison of these scans showed some differences but they were within the tolerance range of imaging methods.
Bendszus said: “We can improve diagnostics because, in the future, we will also be able to offer clinical trials using 3-D analysis, which is even more accurate”.
He went on to explain that dental MRI is suitable for children. It can be effective for early diagnosis of periodontitis, unlike a radiograph. Bendszus now intends to apply the technique on a larger scale. MRI technology could also be applied when 3-D imaging is required for specific orthodontic cases. The study was published online on March 23 in the PLOS ONE journal.