Dental X-rays.
More Than Just a Black and White Image


Dental health includes not just your teeth, but also, the gums and jaw. 

Since a dentist can only see the visible portion of your teeth, X-rays play an important role in helping to find hidden problems. Problems include:

• decay between teeth and under fillings;

• bone loss that cannot be seen during a visual examination;

• cysts (an infection)

• tumors and

• hidden wisdom teeth.

When your dentist recommends an X-ray it’s because additional information is needed on which to base a treatment. If you’ve had a dental X-ray at our clinic within the last 2 years, you likely noticed that we’ve left the world of film behind and gone digital. Digital X-rays provide an immense leap forward, providing a dentist with detail not possible with film. The result: a better treatment plan.

There are some procedures that can be treated without an X-ray. An example: certain types of cavities on the front teeth. In these cases, the dentist will not request an X-ray. 

There are three different types of digital X-rays. The examination process determines what type of X-ray is required.

1. Bitewing radiograph

Taken every 18-24 months

To identify decay between the teeth and decay under old fillings. 

Bitewing X- rays provide a detailed look at decay that would require a filling.

These radiographs also allow the dentist to monitor the level of the bone around the tooth. This is important in determining the health of the bone and gums should the patient be developing periodontitis (gum disease).

To take this X-ray, we place a sensor onto a holder that is then placed in your mouth beside the tooth to be X-rayed. This sensor is connected to the computer. The image appears immediately on the dentist's screen for diagnosing. 

2. Periapical X-ray

Taken when required to provide a full Image of one or two teeth. A periapical X-ray takes an image of  the top (crown) and roots as well as the bone around the tooth. 

This X-ray is taken if a bitewing X-ray shows us any problems or a patient exhibits certain symptoms.

A sensor is placed in a holder and then placed in the mouth adjacent to the problem tooth. The holder is different from that used for bitewings. This holder allows us to position the sensor farther down on the tooth.   

3. Panorex

A Panorex is typically taken every 5-7 years.  A Panorex image shows the full surfaces of all the teeth plus the upper and lower jaw, all in one image.

As a result of this technology, your dentist can find problems that are developing down in the roots of the teeth or in the jaw. Examples of problem areas only visible with a Panorex include: identifying cysts (an infection), tumours (cancerous and benign) and wisdom teeth. These types of issues cannot be seen with the other two types of X-rays. 

As always we welcome your questions. When an X-ray is recommended feel free to ask your dentist about why a certain X-ray is being recommended. 

By using the best in digital imaging technology, we are able to achieve accurate X-rays with the least possible dose of radiation.

We believe in educating our patients so that they can make informed decisions. 

Dr. John