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The future of dental radiology


Dr. Bill Scarfe spoke with Dr. John O’Keefe about what he sees the future of dental radiology. 


  • Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) has brought enormous opportunities for specialists and general dentists, in terms of monitoring disease progression and treatment outcomes, particularly in three areas: (1) orthodontics, (2) endodontics, and (3) craniofacial assessment.
  • CBCT has the potential to change the way dentists practice, for 2 reasons: (1) Greater market penetration has brought CBCT technology to a wider group of users, beyond the early adopters such as oral surgeons, endodontists and orthodontists, and (2) With increased use of CBCT scans, incidental findings—those that were not the reason for the scan—are more likely to be discovered. Because incidental findings can cross over from maxillofacial radiology into medical radiology, clinicians may need a framework for ethical decision-making.
  • 3D printing is another area of rapid development. Within the last year, 3D printers have been promoted for printing in-office guides for implants and biomodels, which are replicas of the jaw.
  • Dose reduction strategies are now promoting reduced radiation exposure for children, based on the idea that radiation doses should be adjusted for the size of the child.

Download the audio file of the interview (MP3)


Dr. Scarfe is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and registered as a Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, a Fellow of the International Team for Implantology (ITI) and current Scientific Editor of the Oral Radiology Section of Oral Surgery, Oral Pathology, Oral Medicine and, Oral Radiology. He has served as the Treasurer of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and Vice President of the International Association of Dento-Maxillofacial Radiology. Dr. Scarfe has published extensively on cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) including recent consensus statements on general and specific use guidelines and discipline specific applications of cone beam computed tomography. He co-authored two chapters on CBCT in the 7th edition of the standard dental undergraduate textbook  Oral Radiology: Principles and Interpretation by White and Pharoah. He has presented internationally as well as nationally and is active in research on the clinical applications of CBCT imaging. He is co-Director of a University-based intramural private practice in CBCT imaging since 2004.

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