One of the things kids like about going to the dentist (albeit a portion of them and not the lot) is getting the dental X-ray. Granted, they might not be the most comfortable thing in the world to do, but there are many who are, of course, fascinated by the technology or just by the pictures of their own mouths from the inside. These are the kinds of images that show people not only their teeth but also the bone structure of their jaw or perhaps the soft tissues around these bones and these teeth. Ordinarily, the purpose of employing X-ray imaging is to determine whether or not there might be otherwise undetectable problems or concerns beneath the surface. Your dentist knows the telltale signs of every problem that X-ray imaging is intended to detect, so a thorough look is typically all he or she requires.
Among the most common finds for an X-ray imaging session would be the cavities one might have sustained or be in the process of creating; similarly, dentist may very well find hidden structures in your gums such as, for instance, those cantankerous wisdom teeth that seek only to throw your jaw into upheaval from back to front. Your dentist may also manage to detect signs of bone loss using X-ray imaging, and bone loss is entirely undetectable otherwise. Occasionally, dentists also use X-rays for mere follow-ups when treatments have completed. There are many reasons why an X-ray might be necessary, and there are many different kinds of X-ray imaging; however, which method of X-raying is determined by the circumstance and the information that your dentist is after.
One of the methods dentists use for X-ray imaging is called the “bitewing.” This is the method that dentists use if they’re looking for a single view of the upper teeth as well as lower back teeth all in one shot. These angles are typically checked for signis of decay between teeth but also to look at the alignment of the upper and lower teeth from a more holistic point of view. Your dentist may rely on this when investigating gum disease or certain kinds of dental infection because the correlating bone loss would be apparent via X-ray.
Periapical X-rays are more singularly focused on one tooth, but they render 3D CGI imaging of that entire tooth all the way around. Their purpose is to display the tooth from its root where bones support the tooth in question, and in the same shot, these X-rays capture the crown of said tooth as well. As such, they are very all-encompassing, and they aid dentists in finding all sorts of issues beneath the gum line or within the jaw like bone transmutations indicative of any of a plethora of diseases, impacted teeth, tumors, abscesses, cysts, or all of the above. Even the most professional of dentists would be at least partly overwhelmed to find you had all of the above, though.
If your orthodontist wants to get a good look at the roof of your mouth or the floor beneath the tongue for that matter, he or she will likely opt for an occlusal X-ray. This imaging is especially helpful for identifying extra teeth, particularly those that have yet to breach the gums. These X-rays also do well to find jaw fractures and clefts in the roof of your mouth, too.
If it’s all-encompassing you want, though, your best bet is the Panoramic X-ray. It gives dentists the broadest view of not just your jaw but also your nasal cavity, your sinuses, and your temporomandibular joints. This is another way of detecting impacted teeth, and it’s also likely to pick up on cysts and tumors as well. Overlap with some of the aforementioned X-rays in terms of what it registers is to be expected given how broad the imaging is, but infections and fractures are equally noticeable by the same means.