There are several reasons that a dentist might choose to take one or more x-rays. X-rays are a very helpful tool for your dentist or dental hygienist to ‘see’ things in your mouth that are not visible to the eye. In this article we will introduce three of the most common x-rays taken in the dental clinic: Bite-wing x-rays, single x-rays and panoramic x-rays:
Bite-wings are the x-rays that you bite on. These are used to see cavities on the surfaces between your teeth, since these are very difficult to see without the use of x-rays. Bite-wings are also used to evaluate your bone structure around the teeth, when there is suspicion of bone loss (periodontitis). Your dentist or dental hygienist will need to take between one and four x-rays to get the information that he/she needs. Normally it is not necessary to take more than one in each side, though.
Single x-rays are taken to get a picture of a whole tooth including the root and surrounding bone structure. This type of x-ray is the best way to find causes for tooth aches or other abnormalities inside or around a single tooth. If there is suspicion of extensive periodontitis or caries your dentist or dental hygienist might choose to take a whole set of single x-rays to get a picture of every tooth. If there are no symptoms and a normal oral examinations shows no sign of disease, there should be no need for this.
A panoramic x-ray is a photograph of your whole mouth in one shot. It does not show as many details as a set of single x-rays, so it is only useful to get a general impression of your dental health status and then maybe supplement with a couple of single x-rays. This type of x-ray is especially useful in connection with orthodontics or a very extensive treatment need.