Radiography (X-ray)



X-rays, also known as radiography, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem.
X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.
X-rays help dentists diagnose common problems, such as cavities, gum disease and some types of infections. Radiographs allow dentists to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums to assess the health of the bone and supporting tissues that hold teeth in place.

Here are some of the most common types of X-rays performed:

  • Periapical: provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth.
  • Bite-Wing: offers a visual of both the lower and upper posterior teeth. This type of X-ray shows the dentist how these teeth touch one another (or occlude) and helps to determine if decay is present between back teeth.
  • Panoramic: shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw, and is usually taken when a patient may need orthodontic treatment or implant placement.
  • Occlusal: offers a clear view of the floor of the mouth to show the bite of the upper or lower jaw. This kind of X-ray highlights children’s tooth development to show the primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth.

Because X-ray machines and other sources of dental radiographs are designed to minimize radiation, these processes are safe and your exposure is negligible. Many offices, in fact, are now using digital X-rays, which further reduces radiation exposure. However, it is recommended for patients to have the added protection of a leaded apron to cover the abdominal area and a leaded collar to protect the thyroid during the procedure.


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