The first dental x-ray which you get when you enter a dentist’s office is the one for which you are asked to bite down on a piece of plastic. Then multiple pictures of your mouth are taken that cover some or all of your teeth. Your dentist may run a number of x-rays to find out about several issues which may be there in your oral cavity.
Above mentioned radiograph mainly refers to the conventional type. However, it is pretty different case when we talk about a panoramic x-ray. This type of x-ray mainly focuses on creating an image of entire oral cavity including jaws, nasal area and sinuses.
Reason to go for panoramic x-rays
Since panoramic x-ray produces an image of entire mouth on one film, it is not possible to generate details which may help in tracking down the cavities. However, this x-rays test can show other problems such as fractures, bone abnormalities, impacted teeth, cysts, tumors and infections. Your dentist may also ask you to get this type of x-ray if he/she finds out about the possibility of few disorders related to braces, implants and dentures.
The way this x-ray test is done
While all of the dental x-rays are intraoral, panoramic dental x-rays are extra-oral. It means that the machine and the film, which gets the image printed, are positioned outside the mouth. X-ray machine projects a beam and it is received by the film which rotates around your mouth to make the complete image of the entire oral cavity. Typically, the process involves positioning of your head using your chin, forehead and side rests. A bite-blocker is placed in the mouth to keep the mouth open. The machine arms then rotate in semicircle movement, starting from one end of the jaw, ending at the other.
The benefits and risks
A panoramic x-ray test is quite beneficial because it can provide comprehensive overview of your oral cavity. It can cover almost all of the issues related to your dental health. However, the major disadvantage of this x-ray test is the added radiation exposure which is about 0.02 millisieverts. These figures are four times greater than the ones related to four bitewing x-rays. So, your dentist may ask for this test only when it would be absolutely necessary. You can also ask your dentist about the risks, and the ways you can prevent those risks.