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Selective Use of Cone-Beam Computed Tomography Offers Advanced Point-of-Care Imaging

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CHICAGO, July 30, 2012 –In the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) presents an ADA report with recommendations for the safe use of cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) in dental practice. This imaging method provides three-dimensional detail of oral and maxillofacial structures, which can help clinicians provide improved treatment and lead to better patient outcomes.

The published recommendations provide essential principles for consideration in the selection of CBCT imaging for individual patient care. Importantly, clinicians should perform radiographic imaging, including CBCT, only after professional justification that the potential clinical benefits will outweigh the risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation. However, CBCT may supplement or replace conventional dental x-rays when the conventional images will not adequately capture the needed information.

The statement emphasizes the application of professional judgment in clinical decision-making that is informed by the latest scientific evidence and professional guidance. A guiding principle for use of all x-rays, including CBCT, is to keep radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable ("ALARA").  The new statement incorporates the ALARA principle while also recognizing the need to expand pre-doctoral and continuing dental education on CBCT use and image interpretation. Actions recommended to help achieve this principle include: consulting with a medical physicist or other qualified expert to perform equipment evaluations at installation; confirming compliance with local, state and federal requirements at least annually; and establishing a facility quality control program.

CBCT technologies offer an advanced point-of-care imaging modality that has developed into an important adjunct to conventional radiography. As a science-based organization, the ADA supports ongoing research on CBCT and all aspects of dentistry that will help to ensure patient safety, enhance preventive care and facilitate the management and treatment of oral diseases.  The ADA encourages patients to talk with their dentists about the use of CBCT imaging and all aspects of their dental care.

Based on a review of the latest scientific research and input from a number of subject matter experts, the initial recommendations underwent a broad stakeholder review process, resulting in input from other ADA councils and the following organizations to develop the final statement: the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, American Association of Endodontists, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; American Association of Orthodontists, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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About the American Dental Association

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit www.ada.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website www.MouthHealthy.org.