CBCT stands for Cone Beam Computed Tomography. A CBCT is similar technology to a medical CT or CAT scan, but has a few differences that reduce the amount of radiation to the patient. In a CT scan a rapid series of x-rays are taken as a sensor spins around the patient. A computer is then able to use these x-rays to reconstruct the patient's anatomy in three dimensions.
Cone Beam CT scans (CBCTs) are used more commonly in dentistry. In this type of scan, the x-ray is shaped like a cone, rather than a line. This allows more information to be captured by the sensor for each x-ray that the patient is exposed to. Ultimately this means the patient is exposed to MUCH less radiation, with minimal effects on the overall accuracy of the scan.
CBCT scans are an invaluable tool in a modern dental practice because they provide so much more information than conventional intraoral x-rays, or even than panoramic x-rays. We can identify abscesses that we couldn't see before, diagnose fractured teeth, precisely measure important anatomical features like nerves, blood vessels, and sinuses, and much more. We use CBCT on a daily basis to help diagnose, plan, and evaluate treatments.