Dental CBCT Scan

What Is 3D CBCT

One of Reveal's most popular services is our line of CBCT imaging, which stands for cone beam computed tomography. If you’re new to dental CBCT scans and aren’t sure what they are, here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect from a 3D CBCT scan.

The advanced technology used is a scanner able to obtain high-resolution images from all angles inside your mouth. A sophisticated computer system then creates high-definition images that look like perfect miniature models of your teeth, jaws and other structures in your mouth.

These detailed, three-dimensional images allow dentists to place implants confidently, see hidden canals in the tooth before endo treatments, and determine whether a tooth should be treated or extracted. The same technology also allows us to create highly accurate 3D CBCT scans of your entire skull and jaw bones—or even your spine!

For example, if you have chronic neck pain or TMJ disorder symptoms but haven't been able to pinpoint exactly where it's coming from, one option may be a full 3D CBCT scan of your head and neck area. We'll create an image that looks just like an x-ray but gives us much more information about how everything fits together inside your skull—and whether there might be any issues with misalignment.

Benefits of CBCT in Dentistry

CBCT is not a standard X-ray, but rather a technology that allows doctors to get more information from an X-ray than they could with traditional dental imaging. CBCT generates high-quality images of patients’ mouths and teeth in three dimensions. Doctors can then use these detailed images to examine hard-to-reach areas, including sinuses and airways.

They can also compare multiple views or multiple patients on one screen, so diagnosis is faster and easier for both doctors and patients. Finally, CBCT exams are much shorter than traditional dental X-rays; many procedures require only five to ten seconds of exposure time. This means less time spent in uncomfortable positions, which reduces patient anxiety.

In addition, because there is no need for contrast dye during a CBCT exam, there are fewer risks associated with its use. Overall, patients experience better care when dentists have access to advanced diagnostic tools like 3D CBCT scans.



Dental x-rays and 2D panographs cannot clearly see the inside of the bone, and cannot see the tongue-side of the bone at all. Only a cone beam CT (CBCT image) can create a 3D view and cross sections of the area of interest.

The information provided in a CBCT scan is extremely important when placing dental implants, performing a complex root canal or extraction, planning orthodontics, evaluating the sinuses and airway, testing your TMJ (jaw joint), or looking for the source of pain or infection.

Doctors want to have as much information as possible about your condition and anatomy before operating or planning; that’s why doctors refer patients for CT imaging.

You can download a radiation dose reference card here.


Our dental cone beam CT emits less radiation and provides a more complete picture. Hospital CTs take a series of parallel x-ray images of the head, from top to bottom. There’s a gap between each image, and a computer uses educated guesses to fill in the gaps. This type of CT imaging is adequate (albeit with excessive radiation) for large pathology, like a skull fracture or sinus infection.

A cone beam CT circles the head, so each image or slice overlaps. There is no gap. In addition, the radiation is much weaker. Only in areas of overlap (the area of interest) is there enough radiation and data to construct a 3D model. This is why CBCT images provide a more complete image with less radiation, compared to hospital CT machines.

You can download a radiation dose reference card here.


We encounter radiation naturally - cosmic radiation filters down through the atmosphere, terrestrial radiation comes up from the earth in rocks and building materials, and trace amounts of radiation are found in what we eat, drink, and breathe.

On average, Americans are exposed to about 3 mSv (or 300 mrem) of natural radiation in a year, though this varies from place to place. Radiation is a useful tool in research and clinical applications.  X-rays can help image structures inside the body, small amounts of radioactive material can be injected to help identify internal processes, and large amounts of radiation can treat serious conditions such as cancer.

However, significant radiation exposure can damage skin, the lens of the eye, or even increase the risk for cancer. Whenever radiation is considered, it is important to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks and use reasonable precautions to limit unnecessary exposure.

Our goal is to keep radiation exposure risks as low as reasonably achievable. This is accomplished by using the minimum amount of radiation needed for the desired result, and by the appropriate use of

  • Time: The amount of radiation exposure is directly related to the time exposed to the radioactive source. Reduce exposure by limiting the time near radiation to only what is necessary.
  • Distance: Doubling the distance from a source of radiation reduces exposure by 75%. Increase distance from the radiation source whenever possible.
  • Shielding: Use appropriate shielding for the type of radiation. Lead protective garments or drapes can reduce exposure during x-ray imaging. Higher energy x-rays or gamma rays can be decreased by walls of thicker lead or concrete. Beta radiation can be blocked by a centimeter of Lucite. Alpha radiation is stopped by a sheet of paper or a few centimeters of air.

The majority of our CT scans have a radiation effective dose equivalent to four or five hours of high-altitude air flight, or 11 to 15 days of normal background radiation in the United States.

Your doctor believes that this risk from radiation exposure is much less than the risk of inaccurate diagnosis or treatment from proceeding with the knowledge provided by a CBCT scan.

You can download a radiation dose reference card here.

Does Reveal Diagnostics accept Medicare for dental Cone Beam CT services?

Starting September 2022, Reveal Diagnostics accepts Medicare for all Cone Beam CT services in selected locations. Please contact us at  (415) 837-5990 for details.

Our 3D CBCT Equipment

Reveal Diagnostics uses the latest NEWTOM GO 2D/3D CEPH TECHNOLOGY to support the mission of our entire team to provide patients with the latest and most innovative services in the field of dental imaging.

3D/2D CEPH Imaging

Broad diagnostic potential, guided procedures and smart automated features

Clinical Excellence

Accurate diagnoses: complete dentition, superior and lower arch, maxillary sinuses

Patient Safety

ECO Dose function and SafeBeam technology adapts the radiated dose to the examination area

Maximum Connectivity

Acquired x-ray images can easily be stored and shared

CALL (415) 837-5990

Types of 3D CBCT Scans We Offer

We provide 3D CBCT dental scans to dentists, chiropractors and ENT doctors looking for precision diagnosis. Using the latest technology Reveal Diagnostics customizes the workup images to your specialty and diagnostic goal.

For implants, we measure from the crest of the bone to the nerve canal or sinus, at the relevant implant angle. For endo cases we add axial (top-down) slices so you can follow the root canals from the inside. Impacted cases are angled for the best visibility to clearly show their proximity to other teeth. 

For TMJ cases, we superimpose the in-occlusion and fully-articulated condyle positions to highlight displacement. We also include 3D viewing software at no cost.
Orthodontic Imaging
TMJ Imaging
Other Pathology
Impactions / Extractions
Endo Workups
Implant Workups

CALL (415) 837-5990

Call Now Button