Types of Dental X-Rays

If you have spent time in a dental office, you have probably had an x-ray taken at some point in life. These oral images are used as a standard part of routine exams, but they also serve other purposes. Not all dental x-rays are alike.

Photo Op: Types of Dental X-Rays

To clear up some of the differences, here is a look at some of the most commonly used dental x-rays:

  • The Big Picture: Panoramic X-Rays

If you have ever sat still on a round platform while a machine circles your head, you have experienced a panoramic x-ray. This is the extraoral x-ray that is used most in dental offices. These devices reveal a view of your entire mouth in a single image. The camera moves around your whole head taking pictures. Panoramic x-rays show adult teeth that have yet to erupt, and incoming wisdom teeth, including those that have become impacted and may need surgical intervention. The full view of the mouth also makes it easier to uncover hidden cysts, abscesses, and tumors.

  • Glamor Shots: Bitewing X-Rays

Bitewings are the x-rays you take during your routine dental exams. Just like the name suggests, you bite down on dental film while the technician captures the image. This type is considered an intraoral x-ray because it is taken inside the oral cavity. One film is used for each quadrant of the mouth.

Bitewings offer a concise view of the tight crevices between teeth that are hard to see. These images are used to look for cavities and decay in hard to reach areas.

  • It’s Time for Your Close-Up: Periapical X-Rays

Another type of intraoral imaging, periapical x-rays are used to get a closer look. If you have a toothache or mouth irritation in a specific area, a periapical x-ray will give your dentist a close-up view of what is going on.

Early Warnings for Healthier Smiles

Dental x-rays of any type are easy to use, low-risk tools that allow your dentist to detect oral health threats early. Therefore, it is always important that you keep up with routine teeth cleanings and dental exams.