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A recent article in the New York Times discussed a new technology in dentistry called cone beam radiology. The use of this is increasing greatly due to heavy promotion by manufacturers despite its use of greater levels of radiation than any other modality in dentistry. How can a patient be certain what’s best for them?

added on: January 20, 2012

Many points in this article ring true. This technology provides greater diagnostic accuracy combined with incredibly detailed three dimensional images which can aide in many procedures. However, it does expose an individual to much higher dosages of radiation than any other images taken in dentistry. This can seem ironic since there has been a big push in dentistry to switch to digital radiography over convention films since the exposure rates are orders of magnitude lower in radiation.

Cone beam images have their strength in the delicate area of implant placement where its use allows prosthetics to be placed more safely and accurately. The uses of cone beam in orthodontics and endodontics are still in their infancy though claims are made of faster and more predictable results. That said, exposure of any patient to this level of technology should involve a thorough discussion to satisfactorily allow a patient to make an informed decision before consenting to treatment.

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