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Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is one of the highest grade tools and procedure within the dentist’s office today. CBCT is state of the art and can help any dentistry expert with various aspects of their practice. CBCT is a special type of x-ray machine used in situations where regular dental or facial x-rays are not sufficient.

This type of CT scanner uses a special type of technology to generate three dimensional (3-D) images of dental structures, soft tissues, nerve paths and bone in the craniofacial region in a single scan. Images obtained from cone beam CT allow for more precise treatment planning. A CBCT 3D sensor provides a comprehensive map of the patient’s mouth by conglomerating hundreds of distinct images that are collected as the scanner rotates around the perimeter of the head.

Common uses of CBCT procedure:

  • Diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Surgical planning for impacted teeth
  • Accurate placement of dental implants
  • Determining bone structure and tooth orientation
  • Detecting, measuring and treating jaw tumors
  • Evaluation of the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals and nasal cavity
  • Locating the origin of pain or pathology
  • Reconstructive surgery

Prior to your cone beam CT examination, you may be asked to remove any metal objects that could interfere with the imaging, such as jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc. Women should advise dentist if they are pregnant. You will be asked to sit in the exam chair or lie down while the dentist positions you so that the area of interest is centered on the beam.

You will need to remain very still while the x-ray source and detector revolve around you for a 360-degree rotation or less. This typically takes between 20 and 40 seconds for a complete volume, also called a full mouth x-ray, in which the entire mouth and dental structures are imaged, and less than 10 seconds for a regional scan that focuses on a specific area of the maxilla or mandible.

You will not experience any pain during a cone beam CT exam, and you will be able to return to normal activities once the exam is complete. Your dentist, oral surgeon or radiologist will analyze the images and communicate the results to your referring physician or dentist.