Cone-beam computed tomography, or CBCT is an advanced imaging modality in the field of dentistry. It is a radiographic method that allows accurate and 3D imaging of hard tissue structures. This allows the dentist to see exactly what the root of a problem is, and determine a suitable treatment to fix it.
You may have taken a trip to your dentist to find out that you need a CBCT scan. If you feel a little apprehensive – Don’t worry. A CBCT scan is a safe, painless procedure. It simply allows your dentist to get a better look at your teeth, gums and bone. But what exactly does it entail, and why might you need it?
Why do I need a CBCT?
There are many reasons why you might need a CBCT scan. The most common reason is if you’re being considered for dental implants. The CBCT scan will allow your dentist to get a close look at your bone and establish how the implants will fit in. You may also need a CBCT for your dentist to diagnose a dental issue such as cavities, trauma or abnormal teeth.
The scan itself is quick and effective. The CBCT scanner uses x-rays and computer-processed x-ray information to create 3D images of the jaws and teeth. The use of the cone-shaped x-ray beam means that the radiation dosage is low. Also, the time needed for scanning is reduced.
During the scan, you will be seated in the CBCT machine and asked to remain still. You will not be allowed to swallow, talk or move your jaw. The machine will move around your head in a circular motion. Depending on what your dentist is looking for, you may need to have several scans. But the whole process will not take any longer than half an hour.
There are many benefits to having a CBCT scan. A CBCT scan is a smaller, faster version of the regular CT scanner, and therefore the process is simple and straight forward. The scan also allows your dentist to have excellent visibility and see the exact shape of the bone.
Whilst the scan does give a dose of radiation, this is extremely low and equates to approximately 6 to 30 days of normal background radiation – much less than a regular CT scan. However, as with any x-ray, this is something you need to be aware of before agreeing to have the scan. You must always inform your dentist if you think you might be pregnant, and make sure you tell them beforehand if you are worried about feeling claustrophobic.
You don’t need to do much prep for a CBCT scan, but you will be asked to remove any glasses, hair ties, dentures, jewellery or hearing aids, as these can affect the scan. If you are having the scan for dental implant planning, you may be asked to bring a localisation stent with you, which contains markers to guide the examination.
Worried about a CBCT scan? Contact your dentist to learn more about the procedure.