A diagnostic dental tool that involves electromagnetic radiation to create photographic images of the teeth, mouth, jaw, and related structures. X rays pass through softer tissues, such as the skin of the cheek and the gums, and are absorbed by denser structures, such as teeth and bone. When dental X rays are taken as part of a dental examination, they allow the dentist to observe parts of the teeth and mouth that cannot be seen visually. X rays can show hidden surfaces of the teeth where tooth decay may be located because the radiation passes through the softer decay tissue and makes it appear darker on film. X rays can reveal infections, abscesses, impactions, cysts, and some tumors. They may also be helpful in detecting the existence or stage of periodontal disease.
A dental X-ray is an image of the teeth and jaws that provides valuable information for detecting, diagnosing, and treating conditions that can pose a risk to oral and overall health. During the imaging process, the area of interest is positioned between a tube emitting X-rays and a photographic film. As X-rays have limited penetration through hard tissues, a shadow of the teeth and bone is captured on the film. There are three main types of dental X-rays: periapical X-rays, bite-wing X-rays, and panoramic X-rays. Each type serves a specific purpose in dental diagnostics and assessment.
Periapical X-rays involve placing X-ray film behind the teeth to capture detailed images of the entire teeth and the surrounding tissues. They provide valuable information about unerupted or impacted teeth, root fractures, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and can aid in the diagnosis of certain skeletal conditions. Bite-wing X-rays focus on the crowns of the teeth, enabling the detection of areas of decay and changes in bone resulting from periodontal disease. Panoramic X-rays display all the teeth and the surrounding structures on a single large film, revealing unerupted or impacted teeth, as well as cysts, jaw fractures, or tumors.
The radiation exposure from dental X-rays is minimal; nonetheless, it is advisable to avoid routine dental X-rays during pregnancy.