Prevent Oral Ailments with Dental Radiography

We often associate X-rays with broken bones, and because of this we think of them as being part of diagnostic rather than preventative medicine. In dentistry, however, it’s different. Dental X-rays play an invaluable role in detecting problems before they become major and are an important tool that we use to judge the progress of ailments.

You’re familiar with the lead vest and being asked to bite down on various shaped pieces of plastic. If you’ve ever wondered what these methods are, here is a rundown of each type of dental X-ray and what each accomplishes:



Dental Radiography - intraoral - bite-wing

  • Gives us a view of in between the back teeth – molars and bicuspids
  • Assess the health of bone surrounding the teeth
  • Used to see cavities


  • Gives a detailed picture of an entire tooth from root to crown and the surrounding bone
  • Used to check for infection (abscess)


  • Used frequently in children to view tooth development and placement
  • Bird’s eye view showing all of the lower or upper teeth and jaw




Dental radiography - extraoral - panoramic x-ray

  • Taken from outside the mouth, they show the teeth, jawbones, and skull
  • One image that shows the entire mouth
  • This is accomplished by a special machine that moves in a full rotation around your head
  • A ‘landscape’ image which shows more anatomical structures than other X-ray techniques


  • An image of the entire side of the head
  • Used frequently by orthodontists to assess the position of teeth relative to the skull

CBCT (Cone Beam)

  • 3-D image that can be used to evaluate hard and soft tissue prior to treatment


Various X-ray techniques are important for catching many dental ailments before they get worse, such as cavities or gum disease. We recommend having bite-wing x-rays once a year for general maintenance. If more complicated treatment is needed, then different x-rays may be needed.  If it’s time for you to have new X-rays, give us a call at 207-781-5900 to make an appointment.