Digital Panoramic X-rays

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.

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