For those outside of the medical and dental fields, it can be surprising at just how much technology goes into our health and hygiene, and how desperately we have come to rely on this technology. While many think of dental radiology as a technological achievement that merely dictates whether or not you might have a cavity or broken tooth, dental radiology also helps dentists to scan the overall bone density of the teeth themselves and spot problems that may not be visible to the naked eye.
In some instances, it’s this very procedure that has been able to identify the depletion of bone density near the center of the tooth, something wholly invisible to the naked eye or those using the explorer. In fact, this technology has become so important and intrinsic to the way in which dental examinations occur, that the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) suggests that dental X-Rays account for about 21% of all X-Rays, becoming the most widespread use of radiologic exams. Today, we wanted to look at two very different sides to dental radiology by focusing on different locations for different types of common dental X-Rays.
Intraoral Dental Radiology
Intraoral dental radiology refers to dental X-Rays that occur within the mouth. Intraoral dental radiology is broken up into a few different categories:
- Intraoral Apical Radiography
- Intraoral Occlusal View
- The Full Mouth Series
Intraoral dental radiology is created by putting the film or sensor within the mouth before taking the radiograph. The patient is protected by a lead apron or something similar in order to protect from the radiation, which is around 0.15 mSv, about the same as one would receive in a cross-country airplane flight. However, this radiation is concentrated to a small area and a very quick dose. Let’s look at how this radiation and the corresponding intraoral X-Rays are used to diagnose problems with teeth.
The Bitewing View
The Intraoral bitewing view is among the most common dental X-Ray procedures that occur nationwide. This view is used to evaluate the interproximal decay and bone loss of the posterior teeth. Bitewing X-Rays are often preferred by dentists, because they can accurately depict the bone levels more than other views of the mouth.
The Periapical View
The periapical view is a dental radiograph that is taken of both anterior and posterior teeth. Many suggest that this particular view is used to help the dentist get further information on the root of the tooth and its overall health, and allows doctors and dentists to view the teeth alongside the surrounding bone all in one exposure.
The Intraoral Occlusal View
This specialty X-Ray usually looks for certain anatomical abnormalities, and is taken from the bottom of the jaw under the chin, or angled down from the nose. This view is a unique view that looks at the floor of the mouth as well as the palate, and uses up to four times the size of the film that the other intraoral views typically use. The occlusal view is not included in the Full Mouth Series, and instead represents a unique X-Ray that serves a very specific purpose for dentists.
The Full Mouth Series
The full mouth series is exactly what it sounds like. This is a complete set of intraoral dental radiographs that help the doctor give insight on all of the patients’ teeth as well as any tissue nearby the bone and the root. This series is a series of up to eightteen different images, all taken the same day, that include both bitewings and periapicals.
Panoramic radiography is taken with the film and exposure right in front of the mouth, and looks at the whole mouth and all teeth all at once. This was introduced in order to quickly get a view and understanding of a patient’s oral health, but was put into practice by the US Army and used to expedite the soldier’s recruiting process.
Unsurprisingly, when looking panoramic views, dentists can often see a quick assessment of the client’s oral health, but don’t offer a granular perception of bone loss or tooth decay on an individual level.
While we may only associate dental radiology with traditional intraoral bitewings, each of these views have a bespoke purpose, and help to further illuminate how technology and X-Rays continue to help enhance our oral health. For more about dental radiology, or to get started with your dental radiology certification, contact us today.