Department of Health and Social Care. The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017. 2018.
SEDENTEXCT. Guidelines on CBCT for dental and maxillofacial radiology. Evidence-based guidelines. 2012.
Isaacson K, Thom AR Orthodontic radiography guidelines. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2015; 147:295-296
Abdelkarim A Cone-beam computed tomography in orthodontics. Dent J (Basel). 2019; 7
Merrett SJ, Drage NA, Durning P Cone beam computed tomography: a useful tool in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning. J Orthod. 2009; 36:202-210
Scarfe WC, Azevedo B, Toghyani S, Farman AG Cone beam computed tomographic imaging in orthodontics. Aust Dent J. 2017; 62:(Suppl 1)33-50

Tips for viewing and interpreting cone beam computed tomography radiographs in orthodontics

From Volume 17, Issue 1, January 2024 | Pages 33-35


Kelly Smorthit

MChD/BChD, MFDS RCS (Ed), MRes, MOrth RCS (Ed)

Speciality Registrar in Orthodontics, LDI/Chesterfield Royal Hospital

Articles by Kelly Smorthit

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Jonathan Sandler

BDS (Hons), MSc, PhD, MOrth RCS, FDS RCPS, BDS(Hons), MSc, PhD, FDSRCPS, MOrth RCS, Consultant Orthodontist, , DOrth RCS

Consultant Orthodontist, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Chesterfield, UK

Articles by Jonathan Sandler

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Catherine Brierley

BDS, MFDS RCS(Ed), MOrth RCS(Ed), Consultant Orthodontist

Consultant Orthodontist, Chesterfield Royal Hospital and Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield

Articles by Catherine Brierley


Cone beam computed tomographic imaging has increasingly become an important adjunct to our diagnostic toolbox in orthodontics. This article provides some practical tips to clinicians for the viewing and interpretation of cone beam computed tomography in orthodontics, particularly in relation to root resorption.

CPD/Clinical relevance: This article informs the orthodontic team on the applications of cone beam computed tomography and provides practice tips for viewing and interpreting images in practice, with particular regard to root resorption.


In accordance with the established guidelines, including the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations,1 SEDENTEXCT2 and British Orthodontic Society guidelines,3 the decision to take a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) image should be case-specific, indicationorientated and clinically justified.4 In cases where plain films fail to provide the necessary information required for diagnosis and treatment planning, additional information provided by a CBCT can improve diagnostic yield and anatomical accuracy.5,6

There are several recognized indications in orthodontics where CBCT may be appropriate. These include:


If the decision is made to take a CBCT, the ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) principle of keeping the patient's radiation dose as low as possible should be followed, owing to the potentially significantly higher effective dose administered by CBCT than by conventional radiographic techniques.

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