Digital panoramic x-rays (also known as Panorex® or orthopantomograms) are wraparound radiographs showing an ear-to-ear two-dimensional view of both the upper and lower jaw. A panoramic x-ray is not conducted to give a detailed view of each tooth, but instead assists the Dentist to view the head, neck, and jaw, and how they work together as a whole.
Digital panoramic x-rays are extraoral and simple to perform. Usually, dental x-rays involve the sensor being placed inside the mouth, but the panoramic sensor is hidden inside a mechanism that rotates around the outside of the head. Digital panoramic x-rays are an important diagnostic tool and are also valuable for planning future treatment. They are safer than other types of x-ray because less radiation enters the body.
The digital Panorex equipment consists of a rotating arm that holds the x-ray generator and a moving sensor attachment that holds the images. The patient's head is positioned between these two devices. The x-ray generator moves around the head taking images as orthogonally as possible. The positioning of the head and body is what determines how sharp, clear and useful the X-rays will be to the dentist. The images are magnified by as much as 30% to ensure that even the minutest detail will be noted.
Unlike bitewing x-rays that need to be taken regularly, panoramic x-rays are generally taken on an as-needed basis.
Panoramic x-rays are extremely versatile in dentistry, and are used to:
Assess patients with an extreme gag reflex
Evaluate the progression of TMJ
Expose cysts, tumors and abnormalities
Expose impacted teeth and positioning of wisdom teeth
Expose jawbone fractures
View a child's dentition to check for missing permanent or extra teeth
Plan treatment (full and partial dentures, braces and implants)
Reveal gum disease
Check whether dental implants will affect the mandibular nerve (the nerve extending toward the lower lip) or the maxillary sinus
If you have questions or concerns about digital panoramic x-rays, please ask Dr. Theisen or one of our clinicians.