Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of x-ray used by dentists. These types of x-rays are taken directly in the dental chair and can be used to detect cavities between the teeth, below the gumline, and to locate the source of dental discomfort. Bite x-rays are very common and are often taken for preventive purposes. Modern dental offices no longer use films, but instead use a sensor that sends the X-ray to the computer for the dentist to review.
Periapical x-rays capture an image of the entire tooth, even just beyond the root of the tooth. Occlusal x-rays are designed to capture what is happening inside the roof or floor of the mouth, helping the dentist to see the full development and location of the teeth. This type of X-ray can also be used to diagnose a cleft palate or fracture, cysts, abscesses, or tumors that are difficult to find. A panoramic X-ray uses a special machine that takes an image of all the upper and lower teeth and can be used to diagnose major complications, such as jaw tumors, cysts, and sinusitis.
A cephalometric projection is an X-ray of one side of the entire head and is often used in preparation for major dental procedures, such as the placement of orthodontic appliances. If you have sleep apnea, dentists usually help you, but your dentist may first suggest a cephalometric projection to clearly see the structure of the throat and determine the cause of sleep apnea. CBCT or cone beam x-rays are a diagnostic imaging method that uses computerized technology to convert two-dimensional images into three-dimensional (3D) images. Women who are pregnant or think they might be pregnant should avoid all types of x-rays.
Exposure to all sources of radiation, such as dental x-rays, can damage tissues and cells in the body and cause the development of cancer. Dental x-rays allow general dentists and other healthcare providers to check the condition of the teeth, roots, location of the jaw, and facial bone structure. For many people with few or no dental problems, an X-ray every two to three years is enough to monitor their oral health. If you're concerned about radiation exposure from dental x-rays, your dentist can minimize your exposure.
Having regular dental x-rays is an integral part of your overall oral health.