Korean J Orthod.  2021 May;51(3):189-198. 10.4041/kjod.2021.51.3.189.

Projected lifetime cancer risk from cone-beam computed tomography for orthodontic treatment

  • 1Department of Dentistry, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Orthodontics, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Private Practice, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Private Practice, Suwon, Korea
  • 5Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


To estimate the projected cancer risk attributable to diagnostic cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) performed under different exposure settings for orthodontic purposes in children and adults.
We collected a list of CBCT machines and their specifications from 38 orthodontists. Organ doses were estimated using median and maximum exposure settings of 105 kVp/156.8 mAs and 130 kVp/200 mAs, respectively. The projected cancer risk attributable to CBCT procedures performed 1–3 times within 2 years was calculated for children (aged 5 and 10 years) and adult (aged 20, 30, and 40 years) male and female patients.
For maximum exposure settings, the mean lifetime fractional ratio (LFR) was 14.28% for children and 0.91% for adults; this indicated that the risk to children was 16 times the risk to adults. For median exposure settings, the mean LFR was 5.25% and 0.58% for children and adults, respectively. The risk of cancer decreased with increasing age. For both median and maximum exposure settings, females showed a higher risk of cancer than did males in all age groups. Cancer risk increased with an increase in the frequency of CBCT procedures within a given period.
The projected dental CBCT-associated cancer risk spans over a wide range depending on the machine parameters and image acquisition settings. Children and female patients are at a higher risk of developing cancer associated with diagnostic CBCT. Therefore, the use of diagnostic CBCT should be justified, and protective measures should be taken to minimize the harmful biological effects of radiation.


Cancer risk; Cone-beam computed tomography; Ionizing radiation; Lifetime fractional ratio
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