dental xray

Dental X-Rays

Occasionally, your dentist may require some dental x-rays of your teeth.

A dental X-ray is one of the most common diagnostic tools used to provide the dentist with more information on your teeth and the structure of your gums.

These small, low dosage images can be necessary to better assess your tooth/teeth structure, supporting socket bone and existing restorations (fillings/crowns) etc.

Dental X-Rays

Before your treatment, your dentist may require a large, full mouth dental x-ray, called an OPG. It is important that you inform your dentist if you are pregnant before you have any x-rays taken.

There are two man categories when it comes to dental x-rays, Intraoral x-rays and extraoral x-rays. Intraoral x-rays, capture images of the inside the mouth, where extraoral x-rays, capture images of the outside the mouth.

Intraoral Radiographs

Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of x-rays, as they give a high level of detail. These x-rays can allow dentists to:


– Find cavities and decay
– Look at the roots of a tooth
– Check the health of the bone surrounding teeth
– See the progress of developing teeth


Depending on what you’re treatment plan is, your dentist could choose from a variety of intraoral x-rays such as:


The Bite-Wing X-Ray: A bite-wing X-ray highlights the crowns of the back teeth. Taken on either one or two sides of the mouth, this x-ray shows the upper and lower molars and bicuspids. In order for these x-rays to be effective, patients are asked to bite down on a wing shaped device – hence the name.


Periapical X-Ray: A periapical x-ray looks similar to a bite-wing x-ray. However, it shows the entire length of each tooth, from crown to root.


Occlusal X-ray: An occlusal x-ray is larger than a usual x-ray. This kind of x-ray highlights tooth development and placement of teeth in children and shows the full arch in either the upper or lower jaw.


Extraoral Radiographs

Extraoral x-rays are made with the film outside the mouth. This form of x-ray is considered the “big picture” x-rays. They show teeth, but they also provide information on the jaw and skull. Extraoral x-rays can be used to:


– Keep track of growth and development of teeth
– Look at the status of impacted teeth
– Examine the relationships between teeth and jaws
– Examine the bones of the face


Lastly, there is one other type of x-ray used by dentists. This x-ray is known as a CT scan.

Dental computed tomography (CT)
This type of imaging looks at interior structures of the mouth and jaw in 3-D. This type of imaging is used to find problems in the bones of the face such as cysts, tumors, and fractures. CT scans are also useful in implant work and more complex root canal treatments.

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