The i-CAT cone beam 3D scanner is an advanced X-ray device that allows your dentist to view your teeth, jaw, soft tissue, and nerves around the mouth and jaw. Modern technology has revolutionized dentistry. Old Town Smiles has made it a point to be a part of this revolution. The i-CAT cone beam 3D scanner utilizes a special type of technology to generate three dimensional (3-D) images of dental structures, soft tissues, nerve paths, and bone in the craniofacial region in a single scan.

Better Information Means Better Dental Care

If you have a dental issue, you might wonder about that high-tech device that sends a scanning device orbiting around you while you bite down on a tooth bit. Cone beam 3D scanners are used when traditional X-ray machines don’t reveal enough information about a patient. In the past, to diagnose certain conditions, multiple X-rays had to be taken for your dentist to get a true understanding of the situation of your teeth. The 3D images produced by a cone beam scanner are the highest quality dental imaging available.

Dr. Seema Ahmed, of Old Town Smiles, is committed to providing you with the best quality of dental care available. Premium dental care relies on access to the most accurate information available. In their dedication to upholding the highest technical and ethical standards, Old Town Smiles keeps updated on the latest and most useful technological advances in dentistry. Not every patient will need a cone beam scan. 2D X-rays are still more than sufficient in many cases. But for certain types of conditions, a cone beam scan offers extremely valuable data. If you have a dental condition and think you need a cone beam 3D scan, you can contact our Alexandria office at (703) 836-7000. We also accept online bookings for initial consultations.

About Cone Beam 3D Scanners in Alexandria, VA

Computed tomography scans (CBCT) are a great tool in any dentist’s arsenal of techniques for cosmetic, reconstructive, or general dentistry. While not every patient will need a cone beam scan, it can be comforting for patients to know that we have them available if needed.


The cone beam scanner doesn’t just produce a single X-ray snapshot-like traditional X-rays. Instead, the cone beam gathers up to 600 individual X-ray images of your mouth and then the software integrates all those images into a complete 3D rendering of your mouth and teeth. This provides a lot more information than conventional 3D images. With the detailed information from a CBCT, we can make the best diagnoses, especially for tricky or more complicated dental procedures.

Uses of the Cone Beam 3D Scanner in Dentistry

Images obtained with cone beam CT allow for more precise treatment when planning many dental procedures.


  • Dental implants
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Wisdom teeth extractions
  • Teeth impactions
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Pathology
  • Airway assessment and sleep apnea
  • Full facial and jaw 3D images
  • Root canal lesions

Benefits of the Cone Beam

Patients benefit from a lower dose of radiation, increased comfort, and easy data-sharing with other doctors so they can make more educated decisions.

  • Higher resolution and more complete image quality than traditional X-rays
  • Quick and easy scanning process
  • Greatly reduces overall exposure to radiation compared to helical CT[1]
  • Reveals more information than traditional 2D X-rays
  • Allows more precision when planning custom-tailored treatment plans
  • Provides information on soft tissue, bone, and nerve position

Personal Consultation

Whether you need emergency dental care, cosmetic dentistry, or just annual maintenance, a personal consultation is an essential first step. To offer you the best treatment options available, Old Town Smiles needs to review your dental history, listen to your goals and expectations, and conduct an initial examination.

During your consultation, we can determine if a cone beam scan is necessary for your situation. Not every patient will need a cone beam scan. However, if you have a condition that needs it, cone beam 3D scanners provide us with the opportunity to glean a lot of useful information. We can then provide you with a customized treatment plan based on what we’ve learned from the cone beam scan.

Dr. Seema Ahmed is a highly respected Alexandria area dentist with extensive training and experience in both cosmetic and general dentistry. Dr. Ahmed pursued her passion for dentistry with resident and fellowship training after dental school at respected institutions that include the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology.


There is no extensive preparation needed before a cone beam scan. You just have to remove all metal jewelry, hairpins, and/or eyeglasses before the scan. If you are pregnant or have another condition you think might be affected, mention that to your dental clinician before the scan and we will advise you on how to proceed.

The Scanning Procedure

The scanning procedure is straightforward. You will either sit or stand and gently bite down on a sanitized single-use mouthpiece as instructed. Then the gantry arm (or C-arm) will rotate around your head in a complete 360-degree rotation. In one rotation, the cone beam scanner can gather hundreds of images. These scans reveal extremely useful information about your oral and craniofacial health.


Cone beam 3D scanners produce the highest resolution X-ray images available for dental care. In the patients that require such detailed information, cone beam scanners are accessible and cost-effective.[2] Clinical studies have shown that they are an invaluable tool to assist the diagnosis and treatment of dental and craniofacial issues.[3] When properly integrated they make patient care and treatment more effective.

Treatments that Might Need a Cone Beam 3D Scan

As mentioned above, whether your condition requires a cone beam 3D scan can only be determined during a consultation. In general, though, some conditions that might require a CBCT scan include reconstructive treatments such as dental implants or a dental bridge. Diagnosis of an ailment such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) might also require a cone beam 3D scan. A combined cosmetic treatment plan might also benefit from a cone beam 3D scan.

How Much Do Cone Beam 3D Scans Cost in Alexandria?

Cone beam 3D scans are usually integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan. Once you undergo a thorough examination and consultation, we can provide you a complete cost for your treatment plan. This cost estimate will include line-items that include the cost of the cone beam scans.



Cone beam CT scans (CBCT) are a new advancement in medical imaging. Conventional CT scans transmit radiation waves that are helical or spiral in shape. A patient must lie down for a conventional CT scan and the machine will rotate around the patient. CBCT scans are less involved and the patients can stand or sit while the gantry (C-arm) rotates around the patient. CBCT scans expose patients to much less radiation than a conventional CT scan. For some medical diagnoses, a conventional CT scan might be necessary. But for dental work, CBCT scans are almost always far superior in both ease of use and in safety profile for the patient.


In general, cone beam scanners expose patients to 10 times LESS radiation than traditional medical CT scanners. Rest assured, we take every precaution to protect the safety of patients, even when the exposure to radiation is small. We only use cone beam scanners when it’s necessary to provide a patient with the most accurate diagnosis for a treatment plan. Additionally, sometimes 2D dental scans will require multiple exposures to radiation which leads to greater overall exposure than a single CBCT scan.


No. Cone beam 3D scans should only be used for specific diagnoses and treatments. Not every dental procedure will require the degree of detail that a CBCT scan provides.


  1. Li G. (2013). Patient radiation dose and protection from cone-beam computed tomography. Imaging science in dentistry43(2), 63–69.
  2. Patel, S., & Horner, K. (2009). The use of cone beam computed tomography in endodontics. International Endodontic Journal, 42(9), 755-756. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2591.2009.01607.x
  3. Kumar, M., Shanavas, M., Sidappa, A., & Kiran, M. (2015). Cone beam computed tomography – know its secrets. Journal of international oral health : JIOH7(2), 64–68. PMID: 25859112