Your dentist will want to take regular dental x-rays of your mouth, as these are used to show areas that are hidden from view. Dental x-rays help your dentist assess the condition of restorations such as crowns and bridges, and to check that any fillings are not leaking. They are able to show any tooth decay in between the teeth, and can be invaluable in diagnosing infections.
Some types of x-rays are more specialized and show the mouth in great detail, and these types of x-rays can be used to plan surgical procedures. Dental x-rays can be intraoral, meaning they are taken from inside the mouth, or they can be extraoral, meaning they are taken from outside the mouth. We have listed some of the most common types of dental x-rays below.
Intraoral Dental X-rays
Bite Wing X-Rays. These are taken to show the upper and lower teeth in one region of the mouth, right from the crown down to the level of the bone surrounding the tooth. They are useful for detecting tooth decay in between the teeth, for showing signs of gum disease, and for identifying crowns or fillings that are not fitting correctly.
Periapical X-Rays. These show the whole tooth, right from the crown of the tooth down to the tip of the roots. Each periapical x-ray will show all the teeth in one particular part of the mouth, and these are used to show if there are any abnormalities in the root of the tooth, and in the surrounding bone.
Extraoral Dental X-Rays
Panoramic X-Rays. These show the entire mouth, including all the upper and lower teeth in one single image. Panoramic x-rays are useful for showing teeth that might be impacted, or which are fully or partially emerged, and are also used to help diagnose tumors.
CT Scans. These show the mouth as a 3-D image, and are used to show fractures in the facial bones and to identify other problems such as tumors. They are commonly used for planning dental implant placement, or tricky tooth extractions.
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