Digital 3D Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

In January 2017, Dr. Jay Lopez invested in digital 3D CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) and uses it in his office when planning complex dental treatment for his patients.

CBCT is a special type of x-ray technology used in situations where regular dental or facial x-rays are not sufficient. The CBCT scanner simultaneously generates three dimensional (3D) images of dental structures, soft tissues, nerve paths, and bone. Because 3D scans provide more information than conventional 2D dental x-ray images and can be manipulated on the computer screen to see views from all angles, the 3D imaging obtained with CBCT allow Dr. Jay Lopez to do more precise treatment planning.

Note that Dr. Lopez completed extensive training in the use of this technology and expertly interprets the images for diagnosis and treatment that is precise, leading to best outcomes.

Common Uses of 3D CBCT Images

CBCT images are commonly useful with complex cases that involve:

  • Surgical planning for impacted teeth
  • Diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Accurate placement of dental implants
  • Evaluation of the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals, and nasal cavity
  • Evaluation of airway
  • Detecting, measuring, and treating jaw tumors
  • Determining bone structure and tooth orientation
  • Locating the origin of pain or pathology
  • Cephalometric analysis
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Complex root canal treatments

The CBCT Scanning Procedure

During a 3D CBCT scan, the x-ray arm rotates around the head in a complete 360-degree rotation while capturing multiple images from different angles. It is these images that are used to create a single 3D image.

The procedure is painless, noninvasive, and very accurate. The procedure exposes the patient to a low radiation dose, and the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risks associated with this exposure. Generally, CBCT scans are not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary.


This is our machine:

This is a photo of our actual Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) machine, which is Ultra Low Dose, the lowest radiation dose in this technology. This machine also is used:

  • To take cephlometric X-rays that are used for more complex cases and planning tooth movements prior to orthodontic treatment.
  • To take panoramic X-rays that enable us to view a 2D comprehensive overview of the head and neck.
  • To take 2D bitewing X-rays without placing a sensor intraorally.
  • For airway diagnosis and airway studies.

Sample CBCT Images:

This CBCT image was used in airway assessment.

This image was used in the diagnosis and treatment of an endodontic abscess. Studies show that approximately 33 % of all teeth requiring root canals go undetected with traditional 2D radiographic imaging.

This image is a view of an endodontic abscess, showing bone destruction from infection.

This is an example of one of the Digital CBCT screen views. The tools (at right) enable Dr. Lopez to manipulate images to see aspects of the mouth from any angle.