What sort of X-rays are used in dentistry?

By Yvonne Vannoort, The Dentist

Digital X-rays have, for many years, replaced the old X-ray film, the advantages being that they require far less radiation, there are no chemicals involved in processing the X-rays, which is better for the environment, and they are easy to store and retrieve when needed. They also give better images that help in diagnosing problems too.

More recently, 3D imaging has become routine assisting in the understanding of all sorts of oral problems.

For example, this 3D imaging is used to check the degree of difficulty of removing wisdom teeth.

Other sorts of X-rays you will come across include:

  • Bitewings. These are used as routine images to check for decay in teeth about every 18 months to two years.
  • PA is short for periapical. It means to look around (peri) the apex or end (apical) of a tooth root. This is used to look for infection around a tooth root.
  • OPG is the abbreviation for orthopantomogram. This is used to look at all the teeth and around the roots of the teeth. It also shows the bone of the upper and lower jaws, the jaw joints and sinuses. This is useful for orthodontics to see how permanent teeth are replacing baby teeth.

There are more types of X-rays, but whichever is needed, they are taken with care to ensure they are necessary and are the
best option to provide the information needed. In addition, lead aprons are used to protect clients from radiation.

Remember, when at the dentist, ask to see your X-rays and have them explained to you – you will be as fascinated as we are!

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