3D Cone-Beam Imaging
CBCT Provides 3D Images of Teeth, Bone, Mouth, and Skull
When regular dental or facial x-rays are not sufficient, 3D cone-beam imaging or cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is used to produce 3D images of your teeth, soft tissues, nerve pathways, and bone in the craniofacial region in a single scan. CBCT images of bone help evaluate diseases of the jaw, dentition, bony structures of the face, nasal cavity, and sinuses.
Advanced 3D imaging also provides a complete picture of the mouth and skull from every angle, providing more information than a regular x-ray.
Images obtained with 3D cone-beam CT allow for more precise treatment planning.
Common Uses of 3D Cone-Beam Imaging
While dental cone-beam CT is commonly used for treatment planning of orthodontic issues, it is also useful for more complex cases that involve:
- Planning surgery for impacted teeth
- Diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Placing dental implants accurately
- Evaluating the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals, and nasal cavity
- Detecting, measuring, and treating jaw tumors
- Determining the bone structure and tooth orientation
- Locating the origin of pain or pathology
- Performing cephalometric analysis
- Planning reconstructive surgery
How Cone-Beam CT Works
During a cone-beam CT examination, the C-arm or gantry rotates around the head in a complete 360-degree rotation while capturing multiple images from different angles that are reconstructed to create a single 3D image.
The x-ray source and detector are mounted on opposite sides of the revolving C-arm or gantry and rotate in unison. In a single rotation, the detector can generate anywhere between 150 to 200 high-resolution two-dimensional (2D) images, which are then digitally combined to form a 3D image that can provide your doctor with valuable information about your oral and craniofacial health.
CBCT Difference From Conventional CT
3D cone-beam CT (CBCT) is not the same as conventional CT, but CBCT can produce images similar to those produced by traditional CT imaging.
With cone-beam CT, an x-ray beam in the shape of a cone is moved around the patient to produce many images, also called views. CT scans and cone-beam CT both produce high-quality images.
Cone-Beam CT FAQs
Advanced 3D imaging provides patients with the most complete story of their oral health and allows them to make the best decisions with less hesitation.
Additionally, advanced 3D imaging methods do not expose you to as much radiation as traditional imaging methods. Traditional imaging methods take more time (5-10 minutes) to complete, and you have to be exposed multiple times to get a complete picture. Advanced dental imaging takes a fraction of the time (10 seconds), so you are exposed to less harmful radiation.
This procedure requires no special preparation. Tell Dr. Noelle if there's a possibility you are pregnant.
Remove any metal objects before the examination, including jewelry, piercings (if possible), eyeglasses, dentures or other removable dental work, hearing aids, and hairpins, as they may interfere with the imaging.
For a cone-beam CT, you will be asked to stand biting on a jaw positioner. You will then be positioned so that the area of interest is centered in the beam, and you will be asked to remain very still while the x-ray source and detector revolve around you for a 360-degree rotation or less. This typically can take between 10 to 20 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 (upper jaw) or mandible (lower jaw).
You will not experience any pain during a cone-beam CT exam, and you will be able to return to your normal activities once the exam is complete.
The radiation emitted from a 3D x-ray machine is extremely small. If you are worried about this topic, we are happy to discuss your concerns at your appointment.
Dr. Noelle will analyze the images and discuss the results with you directly or communicate the results to your referring physician. With 3D digital imaging, the results are detailed and can be enhanced with digital imaging software for region-of-interest (ROI) magnification and equalization.