Intraoral radiographs are the most common type of x-rays taken in dentistry. They include the first two (periapical and interproximal, or bitewing x-rays)
Periapical: highlight one or two teeth at a time and include the entire length of each tooth from crown to root. We often use them to check for tooth or root problems, or infections at the tip of the root which may require root canal treatment. They can also provide valuable information about bone levels, periodontal ligament problems, and implant health.
Interproximal (bitewing): usually taken to check for bone levels or decay between the teeth. These are most often taken of the back teeth showing upper and lower premolars and molars.
Panoramic: show the entire mouth on a single xray. The tube head circles behind your head while the film circles in front. Great for seeing impacted wisdom teeth, kids with mixed permanent and baby teeth, cysts in the jaw bone. Sometimes panoramic xrays can detect oral cancer, TMJ problems, sinusitis and even carotid artery blockages.
Occlusal: help highlight tooth development and placement in children. Each xray shows most of the full upper or lower arches. Used frequently by orthodontists.
Cephalometric: show a person’s profile and the relationship of the teeth to the jaw. Used by orthodontists.
CBCT or Conebeam CT scan: provides a 3 dimensional image. Particularly helpful for helping with implant selection and placement. Will sometimes detect root fractures and infections that are often undetectable in other films. They are also helpful to provide full mouth information, the TMJ joint and wisdom teeth.
Dr. Britten uses the Green CBCT scanner by VA Tech America which provides innovative technology for low-dose x-rays in 5.9 seconds and minimizes radiation to both patient and operator. It’s an open air scanner which is great for claustrophobic patients. This scanner not only allows for CT scans but also panoramic x-rays and bitewing-pano x-rays. “I have read thousands of CT scans of the jaws but I am still amazed at the fine details that I am now able to see.”
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