At the dentist’s a variety of x-ray procedures are commonly in use. The two key types of dental x-rays are: intraoral (the film is in the mouth) and extra oral where the x-ray film remains outside the mouth.
Intraoral x-rays are probably the common type of x-ray procedure undertaken by a dentist. They help by providing plenty of detail and allow the dentist to find cavities and also to check the health of the root of the tooth and the bone surrounding it. It allows checking the status of teeth which are developing and monitor the overall health of the jawbone and teeth.
On the other hand extra oral x-rays are more focused on the skull and jaw. Such x-rays do not provide the detail which is found in intraoral x-rays and so are not used in the detection of cavities or identification of problems with single teeth. However they are used in the monitoring of the development and growth of the jaws with relevance to the teeth and also used to find out about affected teeth. They are also used in the identification of potential problems between the jaws and teeth and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Some of the most common types of intraoral x-rays include bit-wing x-rays, periapical x-rays and occlusal x-rays. Bite-wing x-rays provide details of the lower and upper teeth in a single area of the mouth. Each bite-wing shows the tooth from the crown till the level of the supporting bone and is used to in fitting of crowns, detection of decay, changes in bone density due to gum disease. Periapical x-rays give a view of the whole tooth and are used in detection of abnormalities in the surrounding bone structure and the abnormalities of the root structure. Occlusal x-rays are larger and show full tooth placement and development.
Extraoral x-rays include panoramic x-rays, cephalometric projections, computed tomography, tomograms and sialography. Panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth area and are useful in the detection of impacted teeth or tumor diagnosis. Tomograms are useful in the examination of structures which are difficult to see. Cephalometric projections show the entire side of the head and help in the examination of the teeth in relation of the profile of the individual and the jaw. Sialography provides a view of the salivary glands and is helpful in detecting problems in the salivary glands. Finally computed tomography or CT scanning can be used in the evaluation of placement of dental implants or difficult extractions.
Aside from these common techniques, the latest in dental x-ray techniques is digital imagining. As per this technique instead of developing x-ray film in a dark room, the x-rays are sent directly to a computer and then can be viewed on a computer screen, stored and printed out.
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