Objectives The aim was to compare the accuracy of linear bone measurements of cone beam CT (CBCT) with multidetector CT (MDCT) and validate intraoral soft-tissue measurements in CBCT. Methods Comparable views of CBCT and MDCT were obtained from eight intact cadaveric heads. The anatomical positions of the gingival margin and the buccal alveolar bone ridge were determined. Image measurements (CBCT/MDCT) were performed upon multiplanar reformatted data sets and compared with the anatomical measurements; the number of non-assessable sites (NASs) was evaluated. Results Radiological measurements were accurate with a mean difference from anatomical measurements of 0.14 mm (CBCT) and 0.23 mm (MDCT). These differences were statistically not significant, but the limits of agreement for bone measurements were broader in MDCT (-1.35 mm; 1.82 mm) than in CBCT (-0.93 mm; 1.21 mm). The limits of agreement for soft-tissue measurements in CBCT were smaller (-0.77 mm; 1.07 mm), indicating a slightly higher accuracy. More NASs occurred in MDCT (14.5%) than in CBCT (8.3%). Conclusions CBCT is slightly more reliable for linear measurements than MDCT and less affected by metal artefacts. CBCT accuracy of linear intraoral soft-tissue measurements is similar to the accuracy of bone measurements.