A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Cone Beam Use Helps Fuel Rise in Dental Imaging

Industry analysts estimate the more than $2 billion global dental imaging market will expand at a moderate compound annual growth rate of 6.8% by 2024, driven largely by purchases of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) equipment.


Industry analysts estimate the more than $2 billion global dental imaging market will expand at a moderate compound annual growth rate of 6.8% by 2024, driven largely by purchases of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) equipment.1 Although expected to grow, analysis of insurance claims data by New Jersey-based P&R Dental Strategies shows that CBCT represents only a tiny share of dental imaging, as only 0.4% of patients have a CBCT taken. Among dental imaging modalities, however, CBCT is the fastest growing segment, boasting a 25.1% increase in P&R Dental Strategies’ quarter-over-quarter analysis.2

Even if CBCT use was growing at a faster rate, it would not by itself have a big impact on the average number of images per patient. What’s really driving the upward trend in imaging treatments per patient is the 5.6% increase in panoramic X-rays and the 4.9% increase in conventional radiography.2Understanding the reasons why per-patient imaging treatment has climbed steadily since 2015 is important, notes Juan F. Yepes, DDS, MD, MPH, an associate professor of pediatric dentistry at Indiana University in Indianapolis and lead author of a 2017 study on adherence to pediatric imaging guidelines among general and pediatric dentists.3 There are many possible reasons for the increase in dental imaging. For example, the needs of the patient population may change. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has documented that caries is on the rise among young children,4 and the American Dental Association notes the population of patients age 65 and older is growing.5 However, imaging may also be increasing due to greater availability of imaging devices — CBCT unit sales are growing 8% per year — and lack of adherence to national treatment guidelines, as Yepes found in his study.3

Dental professionals would be wise to scrutinize their own practice’s radiography usage to ensure that if imaging is increasing, they understand why. This is important because, as Yepes notes, even small radiation doses, when repeated more often than strictly necessary, pose health risks.


  1. Future Market Insights. Dental Imaging Equipment Market: Adoption of Cone Beam Computed Tomography and Other Imaging Techniques Fueling Growth: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2016–2024. Available at: futuremarketinsights.com/reports/dental-imaging-equipment-market. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  2. P&R Dental Strategies, LLC. Imaging claims data analysis. Q2 2018.
  3. Yepes JF, Powers E, Downey T, et. al. Prescription of panoramic radiographs in children: A health services assessment of current guidelines. Pediatr Dent. 2017;39:289–296.
  4. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. State of Little Teeth. Available at: aapd.org/assets/1/7/State_of_Little_Teeth_Final.pdf. Accessed November 16, 2018.
  5. American Dental Association. Oral Health Topics: Aging and Dental Health. Available at: ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/aging-and-dental-health. Accessed November 16, 2018.


From Decisions in Dentistry. December 2018;4(12):46.

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