How X-Rays Can Help
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.