It’s safe to say that dental x-rays are one of the most important tools used by dentists. What you may not know, however, is that there are actually multiple types of dental x-rays available.There are a number of dental x-rays that should be taken to achieve the best treatment results and prevent problems in the future.
In the last blog post, we generally introduced dental radiographyâ€”the use of various imaging techniques to capture the internal structures of teeth, jaws, associated soft tissues and adjoining orifices. Here we will be talking about different kinds of dental x-rays: bitewings, periapicals (PA), and panoramic; how they are used in dentistry; their unique applications and benefits.
Let’s explore the different types below:
Dental X-ray Categories
First things first, there are two main categories of dental x-rays; intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral and extraoral dental x-rays are two different types of imaging techniques used in dentistry
Intraoral x-rays are taken with the x-ray film or digital sensor placed inside the mouth. This allows for a close-up view of the teeth, gums, and supporting bone structures. Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of dental x-rays and provide detailed images used to diagnose cavities, gum disease, and conditions affecting the root of the tooth. There are several types of intraoral x-rays, including bitewing, periapical, and occlusal x-rays, each focusing on different aspects of the teeth and surrounding structures.
On the other hand, extraoral x-rays are taken with the x-ray film or digital sensor outside the mouth, capturing a broader view of the oral and facial structures. Extraoral x-rays primarily focus on the jaw and skull, providing an overall picture of the dental and skeletal structures of the head and neck. These x-rays are useful for diagnosing issues such as impacted teeth, fractures, tumors, and assessing overall bone health. However, they do not provide as much detail as intraoral x-rays when it comes to detecting cavities or evaluating specific dental conditions
1. Bitewing X-rays:
Bitewing x-rays are the most common type of dental x-ray. This type of x-ray is used to detect decay between teeth, the fit of dental fillings and to monitor the progression of bone loss in the jaw due to gum disease. Bitewing x-rays get their name because they require biting down on a small wing-shaped device that holds the x-ray film in place.
During a bitewing x-ray, the x-ray technician will place the x-ray film inside your mouth, typically on each side of your jaw, and ask you to bite down. The technician will then take the x-rays.
2. Periapical X-rays:
Periapical x-rays are similar to bitewing x-rays in that they detect decay and monitor bone loss. Periapical x-rays, however, show the entire tooth structure, from the crown to the end of the root. This type of x-ray is used to diagnose abscesses, cysts, and other abnormalities of the tooth and bone structure.
During a periapical x-ray, the x-ray technician will ask you to bite down on a small device that holds the x-ray film in place. The technician will then place the x-ray equipment outside of your mouth and take the picture.
3. Occlusal X-rays:
An occlusal x-ray is used to examine the overall bite to diagnose abnormalities in the development of the upper or lower jaw as well as detect large cysts, tumors, and fractures. The x-ray technique also helps detect extra teeth or extra bones in the jaw. During an occlusal x-ray, you will bite down on a special film held by the technician.
1. Panoramic X-rays:
Panoramic x-rays provide a comprehensive view of the entire oral structure: the teeth, jaw, and other structures in the mouth including sinuses. This type of x-ray is used to diagnose tumors, impacted teeth, fractures in the jawbone, and other dental issues.
During a panoramic x-ray, the x-ray equipment rotates around your head while you stand or sit in the center of the machine. The process takes only about 15 seconds.
2. Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT):
A Cone Beam CT (CBCT) is a specialized x-ray machine used when regular dental x-rays are not enough. It provides advanced imaging with a more detailed view of the mouth’s structures, including bone and soft tissue. A CBCT is often used before implant surgery to help plan the procedure, as well as diagnose more complex issues like facial pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
During a CBCT, the x-ray equipment rotates around your head while you sit or stand. The process takes about 20-30 seconds. Unlike other x-rays, a CBCT requires less radiation exposure.
The Benefits of Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays play a vital role in detecting and identifying dental problems. By identifying dental problems early, your dentist can develop a plan to correct the issue before it becomes more severe. The type of x-ray your dentist chooses depends on the diagnosis needed, your medical history, and other factors. Some benefits of dental x-rays include:
- Early detection: X-rays allow dentists to identify issues before they become more problematic.
- Prevention: X-rays can help identify problems before they occur, giving patients the chance to take a proactive approach to their dental health.
- Accuracy: X-rays provide a detailed image of the teeth and other mouth structures. This allows your dentist to plan procedures with more precision.
- Cost-effective: Detecting dental issues early with x-rays can save patients the cost of more extensive treatments later.
- Improved overall health: Dental problems, if left untreated, can lead to general health issues, like infection or tooth loss.
We hope this blog post has been informative and has given you a better understanding of the different types of dental x-rays and the benefits they provide. Remember, regular dental checkups and x-rays can detect dental issues early, helping you maintain a healthy smile and overall health. And, of course, if you have any questions or concerns about dental x-rays or any other oral health issues, don’t hesitate to contact us at 303-691-3333.