What is a Dental CT?

A dental CT (computed tomography) uses special software to produce 3D images of the mouth. It creates life-like spacial views of the mouth that help determine if someone is a candidate for an implant. It also give surgeons information about the anatomy of a patient's mouth to help with the surgery. 

Traditional panoramic X-rays can show the height and contour of the jaw bone, but they give no indication of the bone width and density and may distort the location of the alveolar nerve. With 3D images, a surgeon knows the amount of bone a patient has, the distance to the alveolar nerve and the exact angles to situate the implant.

A dental CT can also help show nerve location before a wisdom tooth extraction.

How to Prepare for a Dental CT

A dental CT scan typically takes 15 minutes. It doesn't require IV contrast.
  • Appliance - If your dentist has given you with an appliance to wear during the scan, please make sure to bring the appliance and be comfortable with how it should be positioned during your exam.
  • Clothing - If you can, try to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing with no metal like zippers or underwire in bras. Metal can blur the images.
  • Valuables - We suggest you leave your valuables at home so you don’t have to worry about them. You can keep your things with you during your exam. Please remove any non-fixed dentures, prostheses and jewelry that may interfere with the area being scanned.
  • Children - Children are not allowed in the exam room. If you need to bring kids, please bring someone to watch them in the waiting room.
  • Payment - Dental CT is not covered by insurance. Please plan to pay at your appointment. All payment options are accepted, except for American Express and Discover cards.

Patient Resources

Use these patient resources to learn more about getting a dental CT at Mass General. You can contact us if you have any questions.

download form
Patient Release to the 3D Imaging Lab

Patient Release to the 3D Imaging Lab

Use this form to order copies of your dental 3D scan.

download form pdf
Patient Release to a Third Party

Patient Release to a Third Party

Use this form to send your dental CT images to a dentist.

ct and radiation
CT and Radiation

CT and Radiation

We pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure. Find out how.