What type of x-rays are used in dentistry?

Bite x-rays are very common and are often taken for preventive purposes because they are a great way to see any cavities between the teeth or below the gum line. This type of x-ray, often referred to as PA, takes a complete picture of the tooth from the top of the tooth (crown) to the tip of the root. Periapical x-rays are usually taken when symptoms occur in a specific tooth or as a follow-up to a procedure. The dentist can help determine if there is an abscess, abnormalities in the surrounding bone structure, or deep cavities.

Other people who don't have dental or gum disease recently and who have ongoing scheduled visits with their dentist may only need x-rays every two years. X-rays pass through less dense objects, such as the gums and cheeks, and appear as dark areas on the X-ray film. First-visit x-rays are also used to compare them with X-rays taken over time to detect problems and unexpected changes. Everyone who has been to the dentist has had dental x-rays at some point, either as part of their routine visit or to help diagnose a problem.

Exposure to all sources of radiation, such as the sun, minerals in the earth, household appliances and dental x-rays, can damage tissues and cells in the body and cause the development of cancer. This type of x-ray is also used to determine the proper size of the dental crown or bridge that you will need during a restorative procedure. Advances in dentistry, such as X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to a small area, high-speed x-rays, the use of lead-coated full-body aprons, and federal laws requiring precision and safety controls on X-ray machines are some of the improvements that limit the amount of radiation that patients receive. Instead of showing x-ray film in a dark room, the x-rays are sent directly to a computer and can be viewed on the screen, stored, or printed.

While some people need x-rays more frequently, current guidelines require that x-rays be performed only when necessary for clinical diagnosis. Dental x-rays help dentists visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. Panoramic radiography, also called panoramic radiography, is a two-dimensional dental x-ray exam that captures the entire mouth in a single image, including the teeth, upper and lower jaw, surrounding structures, and tissue. Digital x-rays are starting to replace traditional single-film x-rays because of ease of use, efficiency and, most importantly, the reduction in the amount of radiation needed and used.