CBCT or CT X-rays: What you should know

A CBCT or CT X-ray is a specialized kind of X-ray technology that dentists use when traditional facial or dental X-rays are insufficient. This technology is used to provide three-dimensional images of your bone, neural pathways, soft tissues and teeth in one scan.

The procedure does not require any special preparation. If you are scheduled for a CBCT or CT X-ray, let your doctor know if you are pregnant or if you believe that there is a possibility that you might be. Leave your jewelry at home and wear clothing that is comfortable. Your dentist might ask you to wear a gown during the procedure.

What is a CT X-ray?

A CT X-ray is a type of X-ray technology that is used when dentists need to get better pictures than what is provided by traditional dental X-rays. It is not used routinely because the machine produces higher levels of radiation. It is able to produce 3-D images of all of the structures in the craniofacial area with one scan. Because of the higher quality of the images, these specialized X-rays allow for treatment planning with greater precision.

How does a CBCT X-ray work?

Cone beam computed tomography gives highly detailed images of the bone and other structures and is used to evaluate diseases of the bony structures, the teeth, and the jaw. CBCT does not offer the full diagnostic data that is available with conventional CT in the evaluation of soft tissue such as the nerves, glands, lymph nodes, and muscles. It does have the advantage of not subjecting the patient to as much radiation, however. Like CT X-rays, CBCT produces images that are high quality.


There is no preparation needed for a CBCT or CT X-ray. You may be asked to remove your hearing aids and to leave your jewelry at home. You should tell your doctor if you believe that you are pregnant before you get any type of X-ray. Following your dentist’s evaluation of the images, he or she will discuss your treatment plan with you.

Whether you are scheduled for a CBCT or a CT X-ray, you do not need to worry. The procedure is painless and can give your dentist the information that he or she needs to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your dental issues.

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