If you visit Midtown Dentistry regularly then you are probably used to having dental x-rays taken of your teeth, but what are the different types and what do they show your dentist? Dental x-rays can be intraoral meaning they are taken inside the mouth, or they can be extraoral, meaning
The most common type of x-ray is the intraoral dental x-ray as this shows your teeth, the tooth roots and the surrounding bone in a great deal of detail. Intraoral dental x-rays can be:
- Bitewing x-rays. These show the teeth in the upper and lower jaw in great detail, in just one section of your mouth. Each bitewing x-ray shows the crown of the tooth to the level of the supporting bone and is used to show any areas of decay in the contact areas of each tooth, and any changes in bone levels that might be caused by gum disease. They are especially useful for seeing if fillings are leaking, and to see if crowns are fitting correctly.
- Periapical x-rays. These are also called PAs and show the entire tooth from the crown right down to the tip of the root. Each x-ray will show the teeth in one particular portion of the upper or lower jaw and they are used to show any abnormalities in the root of the tooth, and any problems with the bone surrounding the root.
Extraoral dental x-rays can include:
- Panoramic x-rays. A panoramic x-ray is able to show your entire mouth, including all the teeth in the upper and lower jaw in just one single image. This type of x-ray is particularly useful for identifying teeth that might be impacted, for diagnosing tumors, and for showing the position of teeth that are fully emerged as well as those that are still erupting.
- CT scans. CT scans show a 3-D image of the jaw and are particularly useful in a number of different situations. Dr. Jonathan Penchas will want you to have a CT scan if you intend to have dental implants as this will show the position of important structures in the mouth including nerves and sinus cavities, and helps him to plan the exact placement of your dental implants. CT scans can also be used to plan difficult extractions, and can also show problems with the bones in the face including fractures and tumors. CT scans are invaluable in helping to plan surgical procedures and for avoiding possible complications.
Dental x-rays do not cause any discomfort, and are only usually necessary every one or two years, depending on your oral health. Modern digital x-rays are extremely safe, as they only emit a tiny amount of radiation, and they are an important diagnostic and preventative dental care tool for your dentist.