3 Things You Need to Know About a Dental CBCT Scan

Dentist showing x-ray to patient on tablet


It’s time for your dental appointment and your dental hygenist mentions you’ll need images taken of your teeth today. But instead of the conventional x-ray machine you’re used to, your hygienist leads you to a new machine you’ve never seen before: a dental cone beam CT scanner. What exactly does this machine do? And how is it different than the typical x-ray machine you’re used to? Learn the answers to the top three questions people have about these types of machines.

1. What is a dental cone beam CT scan?

What exactly is a CBCT scan? Well, CBCT stands for cone beam computed tomography. It uses special x-rays to produce 3D images of your mouth from different angles. This powerful technology captures so much more than a look at your teeth — it also provides a look into your bone structure, soft tissues, nasal cavity, sinuses, and other layers/areas within your mouth and face. This type of imaging helps dentists diagnose problems such as tooth decay, jaw fractures, cysts, tumors, impacted wisdom teeth, gum disease, abscesses, and so much more.

2. What’s the difference between a cone beam CT scan and standard dental x-rays?

During past dentist visits, you’ve likely experienced having full mouth x-rays or panoramic x-rays taken of your mouth. These types of images are what you envision when you think of an x-ray: a black and white, flat picture of your teeth. Compared to these standard x-ray techniques, a dental cone beam CT scanner captures an image that includes both bone and tissue, providing a lot more detail about your dental health.

A cone beam CT scan is typically taken every three to five years and can also be used for treatment planning, such as diagnosing gum disease and cavities, among other cases.
In addition to providing a more comprehensive look into your dental health, this technology uses less radiation and takes fewer scans to show the different angles of your mouth. It’s safer and more accurate!

3. What to expect during a CBCT scan

A cone beam CT scan is incredibly safe, easy, and painless — and they take less than one minute.

  • First, you’ll need to remove any kind of jewelry and eyeglasses.
  • Next, you’ll put on a protective gown.
  • Then, you’ll sit or stand next to the machine while it rotates around your head to gather a 360-view into your jaw, mouth, nasal cavity, and sinuses.
  • And that’s it! Simple, pain-free, and incredibly effective.

Get a cone beam CT scan in Missoula, MT

In need of a more comprehensive look at your dental health? At Ponderosa Dental Group, we use premier technology to provide the best possible care for our patients. Visit Missoula’s best dentist, Dr. Dan, and receive a thorough dental plan. Schedule a visit today on our website and visit our Instagram @danmcfarlanddds to see what’s possible for your smile.