Dental x-rays are necessary, they are a useful tool when helping your dentist detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. Dental x-rays are a normal part of your exam and help aid the dentist in detecting any dental health issues.

Many people are fearful of exposure to radiation.  Your dentist takes every precaution to minimize your radiation exposure.  Dental x-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is As Low as Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle).  Ways your dentist minimizes this exposure by placing a lead apron to minimize exposure to the abdomen and thyroid, taking digital dental x-rays, and using a collimator to narrow the beam of radiation.

The various types of  dental x-rays are used for different reasons to see different details and parts of the mouth or tooth.

Types of Dental X-rays:

We will go through each type of dental x-ray and how often you need them.

Intraoral dental x-ray – These are the most common type of dental x-ray.  You can see decay, health of the root of the teeth and the bone surrounding the teeth.

Extraoral dental x-ray – These types of dental x-rays show teeth but the main concern is the jaw and skull.  They are less detailed and are used to show larger structures so are not used for detecting decay or

Full Set – A FMX is usually taken once every 5 years or as an initial assessment of any new patient to an office. It is the best tool to aid in proper diagnosis and treatment planning.  An FMX shows all of your teeth and all of the surrounding bone. A full set consists of 18 images (PA’s and Bitewings).   They are used to diagnose cavities, cysts or tumors, bone loss, abscesses, impacted teeth, and gum disease.

Bitewings – are one of the most common sets of dental x-rays. Bitewings show teeth above the gum line and the height of the bone between teeth. Bitewings help diagnose gum disease and cavities between teeth. They are usually taken once a year.

Periapical (PA) – refers to a single dental x-ray that is taken to show a specific area of concern. If you have a tooth ache, your dentist is likely to recommend a PA film to see that whole tooth including the root.

Panorex – Also known as a panoramic dental x-ray. Is another form of a full-mouth dental x-ray that is taken without ever putting a dental x-ray film into your mouth. Instead, as you sit still, the x-ray machine head rotates around you, providing one large image of your jaws and teeth. This type of dental x-ray is particularly helpful for seeing the upper and lower jaws at one time and can show impacted teeth or other hidden structures that could be hard to see on the small, individual dental x-rays.

For more information visit the ADA website on up to date information about dental x-rays and radiation exposure.

Contact us by email or phone for your exam and x-rays!