X-rays have become a normal part of dental health for many modern patients, but do you know that there are different kinds that serve different – and very useful – purposes? We’re going to walk you through the types of x-rays you can expect from a visit and how we use them to give you your most beautiful smile. X-rays, also called radiographs, help us see below the surface to diagnose problems or help prevent future issues. There are two overarching categories of dental x-rays: intraoral (which just means inside the mouth) and extraoral (you guessed it: outside the mouth).
The most common type of x-rays, these give us a high level of detail and help identify cavities, inspect tooth roots and the surrounding bones, and check on developing teeth in children.
+ Bite-wing x-rays: focus on the crowns of the back teeth, specifically the molars and bicuspids. They get their name from the wing-shaped device on which you bite down to have the x-ray taken.
+ Periapical x-rays: home in on one or two teeth at a time for a closer look, extending all the way from the crown to the root.
+ Occlusal x-rays: used for children to study tooth development and placement before they break through.
This type lacks the detail of intraoral x-rays, but shows a much broader area. This makes them ideal for identifying overarching problems with the jaw and face.
+ Panoramic x-ray: shows the whole mouth and jaw on one x-ray. You may know this one as the machine that circles the whole way around your head while standing.
+ Cephalometric projections: look at the head from the side, to capture the relationship of the jaw and teeth in your profile. This is commonly used to identify the need for orthodontic treatment.
We want you to feel as comfortable as possible during your appointment, so please feel free to ask us any questions about how your x-rays work and how they will help us keep you healthy.