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Dental X-Rays

11.9.16 in General

Healthy Mouth Sounds- Various dental radiographs

We know that we can create an accurate image of tissue densities on film or some sort of receptor. We also know that there is information awaiting us in our examinations of patients that can only be appreciated through “imaging” techniques, (of which dental radiography is one). Since the appropriateness of exposing a patient to radiation has always been in the light of information gained, it is important that we choose to utilize image techniques that maximize information gained for risk incurred.

Therefore, in dentistry we have a few types of radiographic studies that are commonly safely used. Radiographic studies of the head, neck and mouth are easily categorized as extraoral and intraoral.

Extraoral radiographs in the practice of dentistry include: Panoramic surveys of the face, cephalometric radiographs, trans-cranial lateral radiographs, and CT scans as well as cone-beam Ct scans.

Intra-orally, we often use periapical radiographs, bite-wing radiographs, and occlusal radiographs.

Extra-oral studies allow us to observe larger areas of the head and neck, perhaps for the purpose of determining position of a structure or for the purpose of making measurements of structures. Such is the case in a cephalometric radiograph. This allows the practioner to determine potential spacing and or lack thereof. This study is often used in Orthodontic treatment.

Panoramic radiograhs are a landscape view of the mouth and face that are very commonly used to determine wisdom teeth positions.

A trans-cranial lateral film highlights the Temporo-mandibular joint.

A general rule of thumb is that as we gain area in a picture, we sacrifice clarity. (much like blowing up a digital photo).

Intra-oral radiograhs, however, are very “coned-down” areas with very high resolution and clarity. We might use this type of study when we wanted detailed information about a single tooth, for instance.

And so you can see that a practioner must know which tools are available, and what each tool(x-ray study) does, as well as when to use a specific study, and always weigh that use against a gain in information that will benefit the patient. Over the years radiation has been used in a safer and more efficient way, and we now find ourselves utilizing digitally produced images, which require much less radiation and produce improvements in quality. Next blog we will discuss the x-ray in a digital world.
So, stay tuned in, and keep smiling. Dr. W.


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Gary Williams, DMD

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