Difference Between MRI and CT Scan

The Difference between MRI and CT Scan

The difference between MRI and CT scan is one of patient experience and image results. A few details are shared, which is what makes it confusing. Both of the machines use rotating parts to take images from 360 degrees around the body. They both get images of the soft tissue. Very often medical doctors will send patients to get a MRI or a CT for the same types of medical issues, such as for abdomen problems. This leads dental patients to wonder if they can substitute a MRI for a CT scan in some cases, too.

To find the answer here is an explanation of the technologies.

MRIs use magnets and radio frequencies. The data is in two dimensions only. The images are of soft tissue exclusively, leaving black areas where the bones are located. This isn’t good for getting the whole picture needed for dental planning. It is great for many other medical uses. The process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Because MRIs have no radiation it is a good option outside of dentistry. So are Ultrasounds!

CT, Computerized Tomography, uses a tube that beams x rays in a cone shape. They travel through the patient and are received on a x ray detector. The detector digitizes the scan rotations instantly, drawing a 3D image that shows bone, soft tissues, and nerves. It shows implants and cavity fillings, too. It makes a complete picture. The whole thing is usually over in under 15 seconds.


Dental CT scans do not have anywhere near the radiation levels that medical CT scans do. Cone beam CT scans have less radiation than a traditional 2D x ray, too. Getting the right imaging will save you time, pain and money. It will also get you the right diagnosis faster and the best precise treatment plan, too.

In a tiny nutshell, the difference between MRI and CT scan for dental imaging is one of usability.

difference between mri and ct scan for dentists is usability

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