Types of dental X-rays

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September 25th, 2018

Do you find yourself wondering, leaned back in a dental chair with a lead apron on, what kind of X-ray your dentist has ordered, and why?

There are two main types of X-rays: Intraoral and Extraoral.

Intraoral X-rays

These are the most common type of X-rays. They are taken with film inside of the mouth, show a high level of detail, and focus mainly on your teeth. Intraoral X-rays help dentists check developing teeth, review teeth roots and bone, check for cavities, and look at the areas surrounding the teeth. Types of intraoral X-rays include:

  • Bitewing X-rays
  • Occlusal X-rays
  • Periapical X-rays

Extraoral X-rays

Extraoral X-rays are taken with film outside of the mouth. Their picture is larger, showing teeth, jaw and skull. Dentists may use extraoral X-rays to monitor development, assess facial bones, study teeth and jaws, and check impacted teeth. Types of extraoral X-rays include:

  • Cephalometric Images
  • Panoramic X-rays
  • Cone Beam CT Images

Digital X-rays

The standard method for dental X-rays is to produce a physical X-ray, but they can also be taken digitally and sent directly to a computer. These images are displayed on a computer screen, where they can be examined more closely. Digital X-rays can be enlarged and enhanced, allowing for easier comparison, which can aid in earlier detection of issues. A digital X-ray, on average, uses about half the radiation of a conventional X-ray.