Oral Cancer Awareness Month & CBCT 3D X-Rays: An Interview with Dr. Brunacini

Oral Cancer Awareness Month & CBCT 3D X-Rays: An Interview with Dr. Brunacini

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity for dental practices like Falmouth Dental Arts to raise awareness about the importance of oral cancer detection and prevention. When treated early, oral cancer has an estimated 80-90% survival rate. As your dental care partners, we believe strongly that we are an essential part of your healthcare team. As such, we’ve had a long-standing commitment to screening our patients for early signs of oral cancer. We are excited to announce that we now have a new state-of-the-art diagnostic tool to assist us in the oral cancer screening process – a CBCT 3D x-ray machine. 3D imaging allows us to better diagnose a range of dental issues, including oral cancer. Learn more from Dr. Brunacini, as he explains some of the advantages of CBCT 3D x-rays.

1) Why has FDA upgraded to 3D x-rays?

Dr. Brunacini: 3D x-ray or CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) technology allows us to better visualize all of the structures within the head, neck, and mouth so that we can better assess our patients’ oral health.

2) How are 3-D x-rays different from the traditional digital 2D x-rays?

Dr. Brunacini: For years, dentistry has been taking and reviewing x-rays in 2-D, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine a proper diagnosis. Without the 3rd dimension, it can be difficult to see an area of concern, such as a gum or tooth infection. Being able to take 3D images allows us to more thoroughly and completely diagnose our patients prior to performing any dental treatment, especially oral surgery.

3) Will 3D x-rays replace traditional 2D x-rays?

Dr. Brunacini: 3D imaging won’t replace our typical bitewing x-rays, which are used to locate areas of decay. Rather, 3D x-rays can be used as an additional tool when trying to diagnose an area of concern or when planning for dental implants. It can also be helpful for patients with a strong gag response, as 3D x-rays allow us to get the imaging we need without placing anything into their mouth, making the process much easier and more comfortable for them.

4) How can 3D x-rays be helpful in the early detection of oral cancer?

Dr. Brunacini: CBCT technology can be used as an additional screening tool in diagnosing oral cancer. It doesn’t eliminate the need for our other screening methods, such as a visual or physical exam or VELscope screening. VELscope is a non-invasive device that emits a safe blue light to detect abnormal cell growth that could be cancerous or precancerous. If we identify any areas that look suspicious through these methods, 3D imaging can be helpful in determining subsequent steps for the ideal treatment of a lesion. As we see many of our patients twice a year, we now have a wider range of diagnostic tools available to us to screen for oral cancer during routine hygiene appointments, including CBCT x-rays.

Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!

If you have any additional questions about the oral cancer screening process, CBCT 3D x-rays, or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 207.781.5900. We’re here to help!

Prevent Oral Ailments with Dental Radiography

We often associate X-rays with broken bones, and because of this we think of them as being part of diagnostic rather than preventative medicine. In dentistry, however, it’s different. Dental X-rays play an invaluable role in detecting problems before they become major and are an important tool that we use to judge the progress of ailments.

You’re familiar with the lead vest and being asked to bite down on various shaped pieces of plastic. If you’ve ever wondered what these methods are, here is a rundown of each type of dental X-ray and what each accomplishes:



Dental Radiography - intraoral - bite-wing

  • Gives us a view of in between the back teeth – molars and bicuspids
  • Assess the health of bone surrounding the teeth
  • Used to see cavities


  • Gives a detailed picture of an entire tooth from root to crown and the surrounding bone
  • Used to check for infection (abscess)


  • Used frequently in children to view tooth development and placement
  • Bird’s eye view showing all of the lower or upper teeth and jaw




Dental radiography - extraoral - panoramic x-ray

  • Taken from outside the mouth, they show the teeth, jawbones, and skull
  • One image that shows the entire mouth
  • This is accomplished by a special machine that moves in a full rotation around your head
  • A ‘landscape’ image which shows more anatomical structures than other X-ray techniques


  • An image of the entire side of the head
  • Used frequently by orthodontists to assess the position of teeth relative to the skull

CBCT (Cone Beam)

  • 3-D image that can be used to evaluate hard and soft tissue prior to treatment


Various X-ray techniques are important for catching many dental ailments before they get worse, such as cavities or gum disease. We recommend having bite-wing x-rays once a year for general maintenance. If more complicated treatment is needed, then different x-rays may be needed.  If it’s time for you to have new X-rays, give us a call at 207-781-5900 to make an appointment.