What is a dental cone beam image? - July 21, 2017

What is a dental cone beam image?

I have built my practice on the philosophy that the better technology you have, the better care you can provide your patients. To that end, I continually invest in the most advanced dental technology available.

The dental technology available for the diagnosis and treatment of patients was stagnant for decades. Orthodontists have been taking X-rays of teeth in order to have a better view for more than a half-century. While panoramic X-rays are a little more recent, they have been around for the past three decades.

The newest, most advanced technology now on the market is the dental cone beam. This medical imaging consists of computed tomography (CT) to produce 3-D images of your teeth.

When first introduced 10 years ago, they were mostly used in teaching institutions. However, I invested in the cone beam units right away because they have a myriad of advantages. With a cone beam you can not only see the two standard views—the panoramic and the lateral skull—but because it is three-dimensional, you can also adjust the field of view to get a much clearer image.

I can look at a TM joint and focus in on very fine slices to see where the jaw is positioned in the joint from all different directions with great clarity. I can look at the position of a wisdom tooth to help determine if it will cause any problems. I can also look at an airway obstruction and show parents why their child cannot breathe through his or her nose.

With a cone beam, I can get images of teeth, soft tissue and bone in a single scan. The amount of radiation a dental CAT scan emits is about one-twentieth of that used in a medical CAT scan, and it is used in a smaller, more focused area. The potentially negative effects are very limited, but the amount of things we can see is very significant.


CAT scans will become the standard of care in the years to come, as all orthodontists slowly switch over to the newer technology. Since my practice was one of the first to use cone beams, I have one of the largest databases in the country, as I take a before and after scans of every patient. I credit my advanced technology for helping to elevate me to the top of my profession.