X-rays are an essential part of diagnosis & treatment planning in dentistry. They help your dentist evaluate your oral health. Dental X-rays use electromagnetic beam that travels through the tissues, bone & teeth. This electromagnetic beam is absorbed by each of the structures it passes according to their respective density, producing images.Because teeth and bones are denser than soft tissues like gums and cheeks, the former absorbs more x-rays than soft tissues.
Dental X-rays can be majorly classified as:
- Intraoral X-rays
- Extraoral X-rays
Intraoral X-rays are used to assess your teeth for teeth and surrounding bone for caries, gum disease, and periapical infections. They are taken by placing a film or sensor inside your mouth or you will be asked to bite down on a piece of plastic that is holding the x-ray film against your teeth. Intraoral X-rays are of 3 types.
- Bite-wing X-rays
- Periapical X-rays
- Occlusal X Rays
Bite-wing X-rays shows details of both upper and lower area in a specific area of the mouth. A bitewing exhibits a tooth from its crown to the level of its supporting bone. Bite-wing X-rays are used to detect interdental carious lesions and bone loss due to gum disease. They are also useful in checking the proper fit of a fabricated dental restoration and the marginal integrity of fillings.
Periapical X-rays show the whole tooth, from the crown to where the root ends, and the tooth is embedded in the jaw. Each periapical X-ray shows a full image of 2-3 teeth in the selected region of either the upper or lower jaw. Periapical X-rays are used for the detection of any abnormalities of the root structure, surrounding bone structure, periapical infections, and abscesses.
Occlusal X-rays are taken with your jaw closed. They are larger in size showing the entire upper or lower arch, with overall tooth development and placement, and are usually used by pediatricians. It is also helpful in the detection of anatomical abnormalities in the palate or floor of the mouth.
Extraoral X-rays are typically required for the assessment of the jaw and skull region. Extraoral X-rays are used for Tooth impactions, Evaluate the growth and development of jaws in relation to the teeth, TMJ disorders and Facial bones.
Panoramic X-rays show all the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. It is useful for detecting the position of erupted as well as erupting teeth, impacted teeth, and is helpful for the diagnosis of pathologies of the jawbone.
Tomograms focuses on a particular layer of the mouth while blurring out all other layers. It is particularly useful for the examination of structures that might otherwise be difficult to see because of the proximity of adjacent structures.
Cephalometric projections are useful for examining the teeth in relation to the jaw and skeletal profile of the individual. Orthodontists use Cephalometric radiographs to evaluate an individual’s skeletal profile, bite, relation between jaws and teeth, to develop a treatment plan.
Sialography is used for visualizing the salivary glands followed by the injection of a radio-opaque contrast dye. The soft tissue that is injected with the dye can be seen on the X-ray film. It is usually ordered for diagnosis of salivary gland problems, like stones, blockages and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Computed tomography or CT scan, shows the body's internal structures. It is a three-dimensional image. It is used for identifying fractures of the face, tumors, evaluating bone condition before implant placement and sometimes for extractions of impacted teeth.
A lead apron and collar might be placed over you in order to protect you from radiation. For an intraoral X-ray, the technician places a piece of plastic holding an x-ray film or a digital sensor inside your mouth. After placement of the x-ray film, the machine is positioned by your cheek and the image is captured. The images develop immediately, enabling your dentist to assess and evaluate your oral health. For an extraoral x-ray, the film is placed outside the mouth.
Patients getting dental X-rays are exposed to very low doses of radiation. It is very unlikely to encounter any complications during or after a routine dental X-ray. If you’re a new patient, your dentist will probably take a few dental X-rays to get a clear picture of your dental health & assess treatment needs. Children also need to get X-rays done, so their dentists can monitor & track the growth of their teeth and can take timely action to prevent decay, tooth loss or eruption of a permanent set of teeth before shedding of baby teeth.
Our dental office in Etobicoke uses digital x-rays that are super comfortable and provide advanced information to the dentist.