X-rays provide dental assistants and dentists with images of clients’ teeth so that they can assess their oral health. By looking at these images, dentists can identify complications like cavities and tooth decay, and recommend different procedures and treatments to fix the problem.
How often a client will receive x-rays depends on the client’s dental history and records. Some clients may need an x-ray as frequently as every six months, while other clients with no history of dental or gum problems will only require an x-ray every couple of years.
Read on to discover different types of x-rays you might use in your career as a dental assistant!
1. Bitewing X-rays Are a Very Common Type of X-ray
A bitewing x-ray provides an image of the upper and lower posterior teeth as well as their roots and supporting bones. A bitewing x-ray allows the dentist to determine if the crowns of your back teeth match up as they should. When this technique is used, clients are asked to bite down on a piece of x-ray film that allows for the image to be captured. This procedure is one you’ll encounter a lot after dental assistant school as it helps dentists detect changes in the jawbone structure that might be caused by gum disease.
2. Periapical X-rays Give Dentists a Lot of Detail
The periapical x-ray is used to capture an image of the entire tooth from the crown to the root. The periapical x-ray is taken by placing a film and attached film holder into the client’s mouth. The client is asked to bite down firmly onto the device so that it stays immobile until the x-ray is taken. Periapical x-rays are useful for detecting changes in the root of the teeth and its surrounding bone structure.
3. Panoramic X-rays Are Similar to Panoramic Photos
For a panoramic x-ray, dental clinics use a machine which rotates in a semi-circle pattern in front of the client’s head. This type of x-ray shows images of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and joints of the jaw. In your career after dental assistant training, you may come across panoramic x-rays when clients are in need of certain types of treatments. For example, they are used to plan for orthodontic treatment and procedures, such as braces, implants, and dentures.
4. Occlusal X-rays Are Common in Pediatric Dentistry
The occlusal x-ray provides an image of the upper and lower jaw. This type of x-ray is frequently used by pediatric dentists to find teeth that have not yet broken through a child’s gums. The technique used to administer this type of x-ray is similar to the bitewing technique.
5. You May Administer Full Mouth Survey X-rays After Dental Assistant Training
A dentist might order a full-mouth survey x-ray for a patient. This type of x-ray is done by using a combination of techniques including the bitewing and periapical x-rays. Dentists will usually ask patients who are new to a clinic for a full mouth survey x-ray. These images can then be used in later interventions to identify any possible changes. A full mouth survey x-ray might also be required before a significant procedure, such as a root canal, gum disease treatment, and extractions.
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