X-rays, in general, offer the orthodontist a way to view the teeth, jawbone and soft tissues.
Common types of x-rays:
- Cephalometric X-ray – allows the orthodontist to catch a whole radiographic image of the one side of the face.
- Periapical X-ray – provides a general view of the tooth, from the crown to the surrounding bone and helps to detect any unusual changes in the root and the structures.
- Bite-Wing X-ray – provides a view of the posterior teeth. This type of X-ray shows the dentist how these teeth occlude and help to determinate gum disease and cavities between teeth.
- Panoramic X-ray – shows a general view of sinuses, the teeth, nasal area, jaws, nasal area, and is usually taken when a patient may need implant placement or orthodontic treatment
- Occlusal X-ray – shows a clear view of the floor of the mouth to show the bite of the upper or lower jaw.
The schedule for needing radiographs at recall visits varies according to your age, risk for disease and signs and symptoms. Recent films may be needed to detect new cavities, or to determine the status of gum disease or for evaluation of growth and development. Children may need X-rays more often than adults. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.
My dentist has prescribed a “panoramic radiograph.” What is that and how does it differ from the X-rays I usually have? A panoramic radiograph allows your dentist to see the entire structure of your mouth in a single image. Typically, most dental patients have “periapical” or “bitewing” radiographs taken. These require patients to hold or bite down on a piece of plastic with X-ray film in the center. Bitewings typically determine the presence of decay in between teeth, while periapical X-rays show root structure, bone levels, cysts and abscesses. These show a highly-detailed image of a smaller area. A panoramic radiograph can determine for your dentist where some of these detailed X-rays are needed.
Your dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs when they are appropriate and to tailor radiographic schedules to each patient’s individual needs and therefore minimize the patients exposure.