Understanding the Different Types of Dental X-rays

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Understanding the Different Types of Dental X-rays

X-rays are necessary noninvasive medical tests that dentists use to diagnose and treat oral issues. Some may wonder if dental X-rays are safe since they’re being exposed to radiation. The great thing about dental X-rays is that only a small dose of ionizing radiation is used to capture images of different parts of the teeth. Therefore, no radiation lingers in the body following an X-ray examination. There are also no side effects produced from dental X-ray examinations.

Intraoral X-rays and Extraoral X-rays

The most common type of X-ray used by dentists is an intraoral X-ray. There are various intraoral X-rays that show different areas of the tooth. The bite-wing X-ray is an intraoral X-ray used to reveal the upper and lower teeth. The views show the tooth from its crown to the area supporting the bone. These X-rays expose whether the tooth is decaying, or if any changes in bone thickness occurred due to gum disease. Periapical X-rays capture the entire tooth, starting from the crown and extending deep into the root where it’s attached to the jaw. This allows dentists to see if any changes occurred in the root or surrounding areas. Lastly, occlusal X-rays are used to keep track of how the teeth in the upper and lower jaw are developing and placing themselves.

Depending on an individual’s symptoms, dentists may use specific types of extraoral X-rays to evaluate parts of the teeth. For example, a Understanding the Different Types of Dental X-rayspanoramic X-ray is a two-dimensional X-ray examination that snaps a shot of the entire mouth without needing multiple images. The snapshot includes the teeth, upper jaws, lower jaws, and surrounding tissues. The difference between a panoramic X-ray and the commonly used intraoral X-ray is that the film needed for a panoramic X-ray is already placed inside of the machine, whereas the film for intraoral X-rays is placed inside of the mouth.

Panoramic X-rays help dentists discover diagnostic information about the maxillary sinuses, bone abnormalities, and different tooth positions. Dentists often use this X-ray to create a treatment plan for dentures, braces, implants, and/or extractions. Panoramic X-rays can also reveal information about other oral issues, such as periodontal disease, jaw tumors, cysts located in the jaw, impacted teeth, sinusitis, and/or specific jaw disorders like temporomandibular joint disorder.

Other types of extraoral X-rays include tomograms and cephalometric projections. Tomograms are used to focus in on a specific layer of the mouth while blurring out all of the other layers. Dentists use these X-rays to zoom in on structures that may be otherwise difficult to see. Cephalometric projections are X-rays that show the teeth in relation to the jaw for possible realignment purposes.

San Diego Preventative Care Dentistry

At McBride Dental, we offer various preventative care services for our patients, which includes X-rays, deep cleaning services, in-depth dental examinations, and more. Depending on what the X-rays and examinations reveal, we also provide treatment services, such as gum disease treatment, cosmetic dentistry, and more. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to schedule an appointment with us, contact us today at 760-471-1003.

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