What is a Cone Beam Image?

With all of the advances in dentistry, it can be difficult to keep all the new things straight in your mind.  One of those “new things” is a cone beam image.  In our office, the cone beam is not new.  We have been utilizing this wonderful technology since 2013.  But in the realm of dental technology, it is relatively new, and your first experience with it may be during your new patient visit at Prosper Family Dentistry. 

What is a CBCT?

CBCT is the acronym we use to describe the technology that creates cone beam images.  It stands for Cone Beam Computed Tomography, and it is a type of x-ray technology that produces three-dimensional images.

In appearance, the CBCT machine looks very similar to the traditional dental panoramic x-ray machine, with a large moving piece that circulates the patient’s head.  The doctor is able to adjust the size of the field of view and the definition of the image captured.  These adjustments make the CBCT suitable for a wide variety of applications in dentistry.

What Does the CBCT Image Provide that Traditional Dental X-Rays Do Not?

The biggest difference between CBCT images and traditional dental x-rays is the third dimension.  Traditional dental x-rays are two-dimensional, showing only a flat picture of the teeth.  CBCT images provide the dentist with a three-dimensional image, showing height, width, and depth of any particular area captured in the image.

Obviously, having a three-dimensional image provides a much more comprehensive view of the teeth, jawbones, airway, and jaw joints.  The 3D image provides detailed information about the root structures and the nerves within, which make it valuable for root canal treatments.  We can measure all dimensions of a bony site for the placement of a dental implant.  The three-dimensional image allows us to fully evaluate the health and function of the two bones making up the jaw joints.

Are CBCTs Safe?

CBCTs are a type of x-ray, so there is radiation involved in the process.  They are not the same as a traditional CT scan that you might receive in a hospital or imaging center setting.  The benefit of the cone beam technology is greatly reduced radiation exposure necessary to capture a high-definition image.

CBCTs are as safe as, if not safer than, traditional dental panoramic x-rays, and they provide your dentist with far more information about your oral anatomy. 

Why Does My Dentist Want a CBCT Image of My Jaws?

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we practice comprehensive dentistry.  We believe that the health of your mouth affects the health of your whole body.  Instead of just looking at the teeth, we evaluate the entire oral cavity, including the gums, the soft tissues lining the mouth, the jaw joints, the muscles of the face, and the oral airway. 

Three-dimensional imaging is particularly valuable when your dentist needs to evaluate tooth positioning for orthodontic movement.  A cone beam image shows exactly where the teeth are within the jawbone.  We also use CBCT images for dental implant planning.  We can precisely measure the jawbone in height, width, and depth in order to determine the appropriate size dental implant to place in the missing tooth’s site. 

Cone beam images provide important information regarding the growth of the jaws and the condition of the TMJs (jaw joints) that a two-dimensional image does not.  Because of our high level of skill and education in the treatment of TMJ disorders, three-dimensional imaging of the joints is a must at PFD.

More Questions about Cone Beam Images?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or Dr. Summer.  We can answer any question you have regarding cone beam images and explain the particular benefits of a CBCT for your specific situation.

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