As mentioned in our post, Dental X-Rays By Age, we wanted to go into more detail about the various types of dental X-rays.
Dental X-rays can show a variety of issues with your dental health including decay not visible to the eye, changes in the bone or in the root canal, bone loss from gum disease as well as other issues with oral health. These things are what we mostly use X-rays for when it comes to our adult patients. For our younger patients, we use X-rays to check baby (primary) teeth vs permanent teeth, wisdom teeth, and abnormalities that might not be noticeable otherwise.
So, what are the different types of dental x-rays? Here comes the technical talk courtesy of webmd.com.
These are the types of x-rays you will typically receive at a visit. Intraoral X-rays check for cavities, see how teeth are developing, and check on the tooth root and bone surrounding the tooth.
These types of X-rays are mostly to check the jaw and skull. The main goal of these types of X-rays are to check for impacted teeth, and to detect issues with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or other bones in the face.
These types of X-rays show the tooth from the very bottom (the bone area) all the way to the crown. Because of this if you are in need of a crown or fillings, this type of X-ray is used. These will also detect decay and issues in bone density caused by gum disease.
These show the whole tooth. These are different than bite-wing because they go beyond the end of the root to where the tooth is anchored in the jaw. Periapical X-rays are used to detect any abnormalities of the root and surrounding bone structures.
Occlusal X-rays show the full tooth development and placement including the entire arch of the teeth in the jaw.
These will show all of the teeth in your mouth, this is useful for examining for tumors, and checking the positioning of emerging teeth.
These will show a portion of the mouth while blurring out the areas around it so it is easier to examine.
When an orthodontist needs to develop a treatment plan they will use this type of X-ray which shows the entire side of the head.
As you can probably tell by the name these are for checking salivary glands. A dye is injected into the glands so that they can be seen on the X-ray films. This will help determine if there are issues with the salivary gland such as blockages or Sjögren’s syndrome.
Computed Tomography (CT scan):
This is a 3-d image and can be done at a hospital or dental office. This can help determine issues with the jaw (such as fractures), tumors and bone issues. If you are having implants or extractions, a CT might be necessary to help during and after the procedure.
Your dental professional might use one or a combination of these methods depending on availability and necessity. If your dentist recommends an X-ray and you’re unsure why it is needed feel free to ask, it is your right as a patient to understand the reasons behind recommendations.
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