Dental X-Rays

Dental X-rays (also known as radiographs), are used as diagnostic tools during comprehensive exams. They check for infections, cavities, and abnormalities. Today with advanced technology they are commonly taken digitally.

Dental x-rays are generally recommended once a year, but can be as often as every 6 months depending on your level of risk. Please consult with your dentist to see what is best for you.

Dental Radiographs can be categorized into either extraoral (outside of the mouth) or intraoral (inside the mouth). The most common types of X-rays used in dentistry and at Clear Dental Studio are listed on our site.

Extraoral Radiographs

Panoramic (Pano) – A panoramic x-ray is a two-dimensional view of your entire mouth. It shows the upper and lower jaw, teeth, sinus, nerve pathways, and bone structures.

Uses:

  • Surgical planning for impacted wisdom teeth
  • Locating pathology such as tumors and oral cancer
  • Identifying and diagnosing Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)
  • Evaluating for infection and/or abnormalities in the sinus
Panoramic

Cone-beam computed tomography (CT)- A dental cone-beam x-ray is a three-dimension (3-D) view of the entire mouth or a section of it. It shows the upper and lower jaw, teeth, sinus, nerve pathways, and bone structures. It is able to show more details, depth and dimension compared to a panoramic x-ray.

Uses:

  • Detecting tooth fractures
  • Checking the canals of the tooth when a root canal is needed
  • Surgical planning for impacted wisdom teeth
  • Surgical planning for implant guides and implant placement
  • Determining bone structure and tooth orientation
  • Locating pathology, such as tumors and oral cancer
  • Identifying Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)
  • Evaluating for infection or abnormalities in the sinus
  • Evaluating the jaw, sinuses, and nerve canals
Cone-beam computed tomography (CT)

Intraoral Radiographs

Dental X-Rays

Bite-wing (BW) A bite-wing is an x-ray that shows both your upper and lower back teeth molars and bicuspids (teeth in front of your molars).

Uses:

  • Detecting cavities in between teeth
  • Detecting levels of bone (healthy and diseased)
  • Detecting calculus (hardened plaque) underneath the gums
Dental X-Ray

Periapical (PA) – A periapical x-ray shows the full length of a tooth

Uses:

  • Detecting any root infections
  • Detecting cavities on both your upper and lower front teeth including your canines
  • Detecting levels of bone (healthy and diseased)

Full Mouth Series (FMX) – A FMX is a combination of bite-wings and periapical x-rays to show the full scope of your entire mouth. This is routinely done at a comprehensive first exam to rule out any infections around the roots of the teeth, cavities, bone levels, and any other abnormalities.

Generally, an FMX is taken every 3 years, while Bitewings and Periapical X-rays are taken yearly to confirm that there are no new lesions.

Common X-Ray Misconceptions

Dental X-rays are dangerous due to high levels of radiation – FALSE

New and advanced technology has decreased levels of radiation dramatically, and the amount of radiation that you are exposed to during your dental visit is minimal. You are exposed to more radiation flying on a plane, talking on your cell phone, sun bathing, or even eating a banana!  

Dental X-rays can increase risk of cancer – FALSE

Due to better technology the doses of radiation during the dental appointment are very low. At such low levels of radiation, the risk has little to no effect.

Dental X-rays are dangerous when breast feeding or pregnant – FALSE

When breast feeding or pregnant, tests and x-rays may be done by your physician and dental x-rays are no different. With proper protection the dose is not significant enough to cause adverse effects. If X-rays determine that emergency dental treatment is needed, the recommendation is to perform treatment during the second trimester.