- What is CBCT?
- When is CBCT performed?
- Cone Beam Tomography – how to prepare?
- How often should CBCT be performed?
- Does CBCT require a referral?
- How much does CBCT cost?
Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is an innovative technique for maxillofacial imaging, more accurate than a panoramic X-ray. The test caused a revolution in the world of dentistry, facilitated the transition of dental diagnostics from 2D to 3D images. CBCT allows the doctor to plan dental treatment and find the cause of toothache.
1. What is CBCT?
Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a method that allows precise three-dimensional (3D) imaging of tissue structures of the jaw and its surroundings. CBCT provides images of higher diagnostic quality with shorter exposure times. During the test, the radiation dose to which the patient is exposed is 10 times lower, compared to traditional maxillofacial computed tomography.
During tomography, a cone-shaped X-ray beam moves around the patient, taking a number of images (views). These are then used to generate high-quality 3D images.
The test provides a three-dimensional image of dental structures and bones in the craniofacial region in a single scan, which allows for more precise treatment planning. CBCT provides detailed information about hard tissues, but does not provide comprehensive information on soft tissues, such as lymph nodes, nerves, or muscles.
2. When is CBCT performed?
CBCT is most often used by dentists when the pantomogram, which provides a 2D image, is insufficient, requiring more accurate three-dimensional images of the structures. The test helps assess the health of the jaw, teeth, facial bones, nasal cavity and sinuses. Cone beam computed tomography is helpful in diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorders, choosing the exact placement of dental implants, as well as detecting, measuring and treating jaw tumours. It is also used to determine bone structure and tooth orientation. Thanks to this, the dentist can accurately locate the source of the problem and pain.
CBCT of the jaw does not use magnetic resonance imaging techniques, so it is possible to use it in case of gunshot wounds, fragments of foreign bodies embedded in the jaw as a result of a car or industrial accident, or to locate broken dental needles during procedures.
Cone beam tomography can be used to measure the number of roots in a tooth, determine their morphology, and to examine root canals. It is a reliable tool in the preoperative assessment of teeth and surrounding structures, determining the size and extent of changes through very accurate measurements. The test helps make the right diagnosis to determine the most appropriate treatment for the patient.
Cone bean tomography is the method of choice for implant planning, providing, in addition to bone density (possible through classis tomography), a full range of information needed to perform implant surgery. And in combination with extraoral scans and special computer programmes, it allows you to design and make templates for navigated implantation.
3. Cone Beam Tomography – how to prepare?
CBCT does not require any special preparation. Before the examination, patients are asked to remove all metal objects, e.g. glasses, hairpins, jewellery and hearing aids. These objects could interfere with the examination and the resulting image would not be legible.
4. How often should CBCT be performed?
The frequency of CBCT should be determined individually for each patient, based on their age, health condition and the symptoms observed by the doctor during the visit. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the examination.
Women should always inform their doctor if there is a chance they may be pregnant. They should not undergo computed tomography or any other radiation-based tests. If it is absolutely necessary to perform cone beam tomography on pregnant patients, the doctor must take additional precautions.
5. Does CBCT require a referral?
A referral is needed for computed tomography, cephalogram and pantomogram. The reason for this legal regulation is to prevent abuse of these methods and limit the amount of radiation to which the human body is exposed. It should be noted that the dentist refers patients to the examination only when it is necessary. The modern devices used in clinics have been developed to minimise the amount of radiation needed to perform cone beam computed tomography. A referral can be issued by a dentist or another medical specialist. No referral is needed for a periapical dental X-ray.
6. How much does CBCT cost?
The cost of the CBCT of the jaw varies depending on the city in which the Medicover clinic is located, and the quality of the apparatus owned by the given laboratory. In large cities, CBCT costs are usually higher. The cost of cone beam tomography ranges from PLN 120 to 250 per examination. Some facilities include the cost of the examination in the price of dental procedures.
CBCT of the jaw is a widely available technology in dental practice. It provides more possibilities for diagnosing and treating patients. The method should be used after conducting a thorough examination of the patient, and when other techniques, such as 2D imaging, are not sufficient. The basic reason for using cone beam computed tomography in dentistry is to maximize the benefits for the patient while minimizing the risk of ionizing radiation.
- Kumar M., Shanavas M. et al. Cone Beam Computed Tomography - Know its Secrets. J Int Oral Health. 2015 Feb; 7(2): 64–68.
- Pauwels R. What Is CBCT and How Does It Work? Maxillofacial Cone Beam Computed Tomography. 2018 Jan; pp 13-42.