Types of Dental X-rays
Dental X-rays help dentists see the condition of their patients’ teeth, roots, facial bone composition, and jaw placement. They also help to identify and treat any dental problems early in their development. There are two types of dental x-rays: Intraoral x-rays and Extraoral x-rays. Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of x-ray and simply means that the film is placed inside of the patient’s mouth and used to see just a specific area of the mouth. Extraoral x-rays use the film outside of the mouth and give a larger of view, which can help detect dental problems in the jaw and skull.
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. A Bitewing x-ray helps the dentist detect if there is decay between the patient’s teeth, or in the dental fillings, and if there are changes in the thickness of the bone that is caused by gum disease. These x-rays also help define the correct fit for a crown, and other dental restorations such as bridges.
Periapical X-rays allow dentists to see the patients whole tooth from the crown all the way to where the tooth attaches to the jaw. A Periapical x-ray shows all teeth in either the upper or lower portion of the jaw and helps to detect any abnormal changes in the root of the tooth and the surrounding bone structures.
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.
The Panoramic X-rays help dentists have a good look at all of the patient’s teeth in one single x-ray view. Panoramic x-rays are quite common and used to spot the position of fully developed teeth as well as developing teeth, they can also help detect impacted teeth, and aid in the diagnosis of tumors.
Tomograms can help the dentist examine structures of the mouth that are difficult to see clearly because other structures in close proximity that may 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 areas.
Cephalometric Projections (Ceph)
Cephalometric projections, also known as Ceph, help dentists develop treatment plans by observing an entire side of a patient’s head in order to examine the teeth in relation to the patient’s jaw and profile.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)
CBCT x-rays help dentists capture 3D images of the patient’s dental structure, soft tissue, nerves and bone. CBCTs can help detect problems in the gums, roots of teeth, and in the jaw. Additionally, these x-rays also assist 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 and how the wisdom teeth are developing.
- If any teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums).