Cone beam imaging or computed tomography (CT) scan is a type of 3-dimensional x-ray similar to computed axial tomography (CAT) scan.  Both utilize rotating x-ray equipment and a digital computer to obtain images of the body.  In dentistry, a CT scan takes cross sectional images of the head and neck area giving the dentist an accurate view of the different tissues.  While typical x-rays are good at showing bone and tooth structure, CT scans can show soft tissue, bone, muscle, blood vessels, nerves and even decay in teeth.  This is especially important when planning for surgical procedures like extractions, ridge augmentations, sinus lifts and implant placement.