Dental x-rays play an important part in your treatment. In fact, they’re so important, most dental insurances cover one set of x-rays per year. These help the dentist establish a baseline and track any problems that might develop beneath the surface.
There are two types of dental x-rays:
Intraoral: These are x-rays that are taken inside of the mouth to create an image of your teeth and the surrounding structures.
Intraoral x-rays can further be broken down into a few other categories.
Bite-wing x-rays are used to show the tooth from the crown to the supporting bone. This x-ray is used on both upper and lower teeth and can be used to detect decay between teeth, bone thickness (helpful in diagnosing periodontitis or other causes of bone loss), and the current state of your restorations.
Periapical x-rays are used to show your entire tooth from the crown to the root. These are commonly used to look at the bone and root structures and determine if all is well or if changes have occurred.
Used to ensure the development of your entire arch is healthy, these x-rays can be used for both the top and bottom jaw.
Extraoral: These are taken outside of the mouth to detect any dental disorders that are occurring in the skull or jaw.
There are many extraoral categories we use to help diagnose problems.
Panoramic x-rays are used to show your entire mouth on one x-ray and can be used when looking at impacted teeth (and how they’re affecting the entire mouth) or to diagnose tumors. show the entire mouth area — all the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws — on a single x-ray.
Tomograms can “slice” the mouth up and allow you to hone in on singular structures while blurring out anything that might make it harder to look at what you really want to see.
Cephalometric projections show an entire side of the head. This x-ray looks at the teeth in relation to the jaw and profile of the individual. Orthodontists use this x-ray to develop each patient’s specific teeth realignment approach.
Dental computed tomography (CT) is often used when performing major restorations. It allows us to see everything from nerves to soft tissue to blood vessels.
Cone Beam CT creates a 3D image of the area that’s being photographed. This image details your entire mouth, nerves, bone, and soft tissue and can be used to make the dental implant procedure nearly flawless. It’s also used to look at cysts and tumors.
Digital imaging allows us to take x-rays without having to develop film. These are uploaded from the x-ray machine directly to a computer. They provide immediate images and expose you to far less radiation than traditional x-rays (though both are very safe).