How Does a Cone Beam CT Work In A Dental Office

How Does a Cone Beam CT Work In A Dental Office Feature Image

With dental equipment that has been surfacing from the dynamic change of the industry, many things become overlooked. However, a CBCT is something you can’t miss. An innovative machine that allows for 3D projection from a quick x-ray scan. It is essential to your dental practice when involved with surgeries or even diagnosing patients. So now you must be asking, how does a Cone Beam CT work in a dental office? 

What is a Cone Beam CT?

What is a Cone Beam CT in A Dental Office

A Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is an x-ray machine that has a special feature that separates it from other traditional CT (computed tomography). Used when facial x-rays aren’t practical, a Cone Beam CT can perform a full model scan in a matter of seconds. Doctors who own these machines tend to use them to create 3D images of teeth, blood vessels, tissue, and more with just a single scan. 

However, the CBCT can’t be used too much on a single patient as the exposure to radiation is a lot more significant in comparison to a dental x-ray scan. As a result of this information, it’s important to allow your patients to communicate about any concerns. For example, the possibility of being pregnant as that may put the baby’s life at risk. 

There are differences between a traditional CT in comparison to the Cone Beam CT which you can read in another article here.

The Cone Beam CT’s designed to be smaller and less expensive for a dental office. With the size of a traditional CT, the office doesn’t have the facilities and space for a traditional CT machine. Commonly used to assess bone structures, nasal cavities, sinuses, dentition, etc. Unlike the traditional CT, it doesn’t offer a full diagnosis of the scanned patients’ soft tissue. However, a CBCT has a lot less radiation exposure in comparison to the conventional CT. 

How Does it Work?

How does a cone beam CT work in a dental office how does it work

During a scan using a Cone Beam CT, the gantry rotates around the individual’s head in a 360-degree rotation while simultaneously capturing the various images from the different angles to depict a 3D image. 

The actual source of the x-ray and the detector sit at the opposing sides of the revolving arm that rotate simultaneously. With just a single rotation, the detector can depict high-resolution images. Then, the images are incorporated into a 3D depiction dentist can use to properly diagnose their patients. 

Preparing Your Patients For The Scan

How does a cone beam CT work in a dental office preparing your patients for the scan

The great thing about a cone beam CT examination scan is that there is no special preparation procedure your patient has to follow pre-examination. 

The only thing you have to mention to your patient is to remove any object that may obstruct the image depiction. Things like jewelry, hearing aids, or anything that is somewhat a metal object. You may also have to ask your patients to remove any removable dental objects that may also need to be removed to be examined. 

Like mentioned earlier, pregnant women should alert their doctors before going through with the CT scan.

On the day of the scan, the patient will be asked to sit in an exam chair or lie down on an exam table depending on the model of CBCT you purchase for your practice. You should position your patient so that the area that needs to be scanned and diagnosed is centered in the beam. You will have to ask the patient to be very still during this process. The x-ray source and detector will revolve around your patient’s head in a 360-degree rotation. This process should take 20-40 seconds for a complete scan of the full mouth. If there is only a specific area, it should only take 10 seconds or even less. 

Benefits vs. Risks of CBCT

How does a cone beam CT work in a dental office Benefits and Risks


  • A single scan produces many different views and angles that help complete an evaluation with efficiency.
  • Imaging both bones, nerves, etc simultaneously.
  • The x-ray beams focus on specific areas rather than scattering radiation everywhere.
  • Better image quality.
  • Able to continue with daily activity after scanning.


  • Exposure to radiation may cause cancer, however, the benefit of a proper diagnosis outweighs the risk
  • Children are sensitive to radiation.


In conclusion, the Cone Beam CT Scanner is one of the most effective and safest methods of 3D depiction. There are some risks associated with x-rays, however, the risk is low as a result of technology. If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing yourself a CBCT, feel free to contact the sales department. 

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