Cone beam CT (CBCT) is part of our dental technology suite

Cone Beam Technology

What is a Cone Beam, and Why Do I Need it for a Root Canal?

Advances in technology make dentistry better.  One of the important advances in imaging is the use of cone beam computed tomography, or CBCT. We also call it a “cone beam” image.  CBCT images provide great advantages during a root canal treatment, so when you see an endodontist, do not be surprised to hear the term cone beam mentioned during your consultation.

What is CBCT?

CBCT is the term describing the technology that creates a three-dimensional image of the area captured. It is a type of x-ray, and it does use radiation. Cone beam CT is not the same as traditional CT images, and they require far less radiation (making them much safer).

The machine that acquires the cone beam image looks like the traditional x-ray machine that produces panoramic dental x-rays (the one that goes in a circle around the head). Your doctor can adjust the area that the image will capture, as well as the definition of the image. These adjustments also change the amount of radiation used.

A CBCT always requires a specialized software for your doctor to analyze the image. He or she can manipulate the image in a way that provides the highest amount and quality of information about the hard structures in the upper and lower jaws.

Endodontists and Dentists use CBCT images to visualize the development and angle of the teeth, to measure bone for potential dental implant placement, and to locate important anatomical structures.

CBCT machines are becoming more and more popular, even in general dentistry offices.

Why are CBCT Images Particularly Helpful in Root Canal Treatments?

If you have ever had a root canal treatment, you know that your doctor takes many x-rays throughout the procedure to measure the length of the roots and canals for a precise cleaning and filling. CBCT images allow the endodontist to measure the canals in all three dimensions instead of just in length. The three-dimensional views provided in CBCT images allow doctors to “catch” canals that are not visible on a two-dimensional image due to overlap of other structures.

The success rate of root canal treatments performed using CBCT imaging is much higher than those performed using only 2D x-rays.

Are CBCT Machines Safe?


In particular for endodontics, your doctor is acquiring an image of such a small area that your radiation exposure is minimal. The great benefit of the three-dimensional images far outweighs any risk from radiation.  The more precise detail provided by a CBCT image also allows your dentist to take fewer x-rays throughout the procedure.

More Questions about Cone Beam Imaging in Dentistry?

Call Empire Dental Specialty Group and schedule a consultation with our board-certified endodontists.  We can answer any question you have about our imaging and how it helps us provide you with the highest quality of care. If you have been referred for a root canal procedure, you can schedule at our Beavercreek location or in West Chester.