Typically, most X-rays require patients to hold or bite down on a piece of plastic with X-ray film in the center.
Some dentists are now using digital X-rays. To take a digital X-ray, your dentist will place a sensor on the tooth that looks like a piece of film. Once the picture is taken, your dentist can adjust the contrast and brightness of the image to find even the smallest area of decay. Other benefits of digital X-rays are decreased exposure to radiation and reduced time to develop photos, which helps eliminate treatment disruptions.
A panoramic radiograph allows your dentist to see the entire structure of your mouth in a single image. Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal all of your upper and lower teeth and parts of your jaw.
What is apparent through one type of X-ray often is not visible on another. The panoramic X-ray will give your dentist a general and comprehensive view of your entire mouth on a single film, which other X-rays cannot show. On the other hand, you might need close-up X- rays to show a highly detailed image of a smaller area, making it easier for your dentist to see decay between your teeth. X-rays are not prescribed indiscriminately. Your dentist has a need for the different information that each X-ray can provide to formulate a diagnosis.
Updated: January 2012