When your dentist looks inside your mouth, they can determine a lot about your oral health. However, not everything your dentist wants to check for is visible during a regular dental exam. That’s why dental X-rays are necessary. A valuable diagnostic tool, X-rays, also known as radiographs, make it possible for your dentist to discover and treat dental problems early. There are many types of x-rays but they all fall into two categories: intraoral (inside the mouth), or extraoral (outside the mouth). , helping your dentist create a full picture of your current, and future oral health.
What are Intraoral Radiographs?
Intraoral Radiographs are the most common type of dental X-rays you’ll encounter during a routine dental exam. Your dentist is looking for cavities and checking the status of developing teeth. These radiographs also give your dentist the ability to view tooth roots, check the health of the bone and even diagnose periodontal disease. The different types of intraoral X-rays show different aspects of the teeth.
- Bitewing X-rays: These are done to help your dentist locate decay or cavities between back teeth and bicuspids (teeth in front of the molars) that would be hard to find otherwise. The name comes from the wing-shaped device you bite down on while the X-ray is taken.
- Periapical X-ray: Focusing on one or two teeth, a periapical radiograph shows the entire length of the tooth, from crown to root.
- Occlusal X-ray: This X-ray (also known as Palatal) shows the entire arch of teeth in either the top or bottom jaw. Since this type is larger than most X-rays it’s often used to highlight tooth development and placement in children.