Dental X-Rays

The different type of dental X-rays

Dental X-rays help the dentist see the condition of their patient’s teeth, roots, facial bone composition, and jaw placement. They also help in identifying and treating dental problems early in their development. There are two types of dental x-rays; Intraoral x-rays, are the most common type of x-ray and it simply means that the film is placed inside of the patient’s mouth and it is used to see just an area of the mouth. Extraoral x-rays uses the film outside of the mouth, these x-rays are used to detect dental problems in the jaw and skull.

Intraoral X-Rays

Bitewing X-rays

Bitewing x-rays show the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth in detail. Each bitewing x-ray shows the tooth from its crown to the level of the supporting bone. Bitewing x-rays help the dentist detect if there is decay between the patient’s teeth or in dental fillings and if there are changes in the thickness of the bone that is caused by gum disease. Bitewing x-rays also help define the correct fit for a crown, and other restorations such as bridges.

Periapical X-rays

Periapical X-rays are used for dentists to see the whole tooth of the patient, from the crown all the way to where the tooth attaches to the jaw. Periapical x-rays show all teeth in either the upper or lower portion of the jaw and help detect any abnormal changes in the root of the tooth and its surrounding bone structures.

Occlusal X-rays

Occlusal X-rays are used to track the full development and placement of the entire arch of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

Extraoral X-Rays

Panoramic X-rays

The Panoramic X-rays help the dentist have a good look at all of the patient’s teeth in one single x-ray. Panoramic x-rays are used to spot the position of fully developed teeth as well as developing teeth, can help detect impacted teeth, and aids in diagnosis of tumors.


Tomograms help the dentist examine structures of the mouth that are difficult to see clearly because other structures in close proximity block the view. These types of x-rays show a particular part of the mouth that is being examined while blurring out all other adjacent parts.

Cephalometric projections (Ceph)

Cephalometric projections help the dentist develop treatment plans by observing the entire side of the patients head in order to examine the teeth in relation to the jaw and profile.

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

CBCT x-rays help the dentist capture 3D images of the patient’s dental structure, soft tissue, nerves and bone. CBCT can help detect problems in the gums, roots of teeth and in the jaw, it also assists with tooth implant placement and can help diagnose tumors in the face and mouth. These x-rays produce a high quality images which makes detecting problems very simple.

What types of problems do X-rays help detect?

X-rays help your dentist diagnose problems in your teeth and jaws.

In adults, X-rays show:

  • Decay, especially small areas of decay between teeth.
  • Decay beneath existing fillings.
  • Bone loss in the jaw.
  • Changes in the bone or root canal due to infection.
  • Condition and position of teeth to help prepare for tooth implants, braces, dentures or other dental procedures.
  • Abscesses (an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth).
  • Cysts and some types of tumors.

In children, X-rays determine:

  • If decay is developing.
  • If there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth.
  • If wisdom teeth are developing.
  • If teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums).
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