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Dental Cone Beam CBCT Scanning

Dental cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a special type of 3D imaging equipment used when regular dental or facial 2D x-rays are not sufficient. Our doctors may use this technology to produce three dimensional (3-D) images of your teeth, soft tissues, nerve pathways and bone in a single scan.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are a thousand or even a million pictures worth? Imagine how much more you could learn about objects if you could actually see them from the inside, life size and in color. Viewing a well-painted landscape is nothing like living and walking through a landscape. Studying a photograph of a house does not compare to walking through the house room-by-room. And so it has been in the art and science of healthcare since Roentgen first discovered the ability to image the body with radiographs (x-ray pictures). But all x-rays — just like paintings and photographs — have been two dimensional (2-D), until now.

CBCT scanning or Cone Beam Computed Tomography (“compute” – to determine or calculate by mathematical means; “tomo” – slice; “graph” – to write) now provides images in three dimensions or “3-D” as it is more commonly referred. CBCT is a  type of Computer Assisted Tomograph or CAT scan. For dental professionals, it really does provide the ability to see and experience the body from the inside; thus changing the way diagnoses can be made.

It really combines the best of both worlds. A Cone Beam (CB) uses digital geometry to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional images. The CB actually refers to a spiral beam of x-rays that emanate from and create a cone shaped beam, which is then caught on detectors.

Envision the way layers make up your favorite multi-layered cake and that’s how the CBCT scanner builds up the images, by layering them one-by-one on top of each other. Now think of the slices you cut out of the cake to eat it — the thinner the slices the more you see of the cake’s ingredients, such as finely diced nuts or berries. Using this analogy, these many images make up the results of a 3-D scan.

Figure 2 and 3:An orthodontist will use these CAT scan images to plan treatment based on growth and development of your child. Relating the size of the permanent teeth, when they will come into the oral cavity, what position they will likely erupt into and if they need to be extracted, are just some of the questions that can accurately be determined with the use of 3-D radiography (x-ray images).

Figures 1, 2 and 3 provided by Anatomage, Inc.

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What are some common uses of the procedure?

Dental cone beam CT is commonly used for treatment planning of orthodontic issues. It is also useful for more complex cases that involve:

The Cone Beam Advantage

One low-dose CBCT scan generates an extremely accurate assessment of bone quality, quantity, as well as a better understanding of associated anatomical relationships in three dimensions. CBCT also allows precise treatment planning to occur before, rather than during treatment delivery. Imagine being able to map in a virtual computer environment an individual’s underlying anatomy and dental problems with precise accuracy prior to starting his or her treatment.

123 Jasper St., Hinton, AB T7V 2A8 CAN
Dr. William Vu Dr. Andrew Madej Hinton, Alberta Canada dentist (780) 865-7673 (780) 865-4866 cherylfra@shawbiz.ca