Dental Radiographs (X-rays)

Dental X-rays

Dental radiographs are the images obtained for investigation of various intra-oral conditions. They are commonly referred to as “X-rays”. X-rays are actually the electromagnetic radiation that passes through the body to produce the shadow-like images of structures of the body.

We use radiographs to detect signs of disease or injury within the body not apparent to the dentist’s or doctor’s vision on external examination. They are important for many reasons such as showing dental caries, bone loss, infection, tumours or cysts and impacted teeth, but many more uses exist.

The radiographic image is formed by a controlled burst of radiation which passes through the body before creating an image on the film or sensor. Teeth and fillings may appear lighter as less radiation is able to penetrate these structures, whereas caries, infections and soft tissue appear darker.

The dosage received by the patient is relatively small (around 0.150 mSv for full mouth x-ray series i.e. 18 radiographs, according to the American Dental Association). This equates to the same worth as exposure to background environmental radiation or the same exposure as received during a long cross-country airplane flight.

Digital x-rays (using digital sensors) are used at VC Dental. They require less radiation than tradition x-rays and are able to be viewed almost instantly.

X-rays (radiographs) can be intra-oral (i.e. the film /sensor is placed in the mouth) or extra-oral (i.e. the film/sensor is outside the mouth).

Intra-oral images:

Intra-oral radiographs produce a more detailed image and so allows the dentist to view the structures with more accuracy. They are necessary to diagnose such conditions related to dental caries, infections, the periodontal ligament and jaw bone levels.

Examples of intra-oral radiographs are bite wings and periapicals.

Bite wings


Extra-oral images:

Extra-oral radiographs include Panoramic (OPG), lateral cephalometric radiographs and CT scans.

Panoramic OPG

Lateral Cephalogram

Panoramic radiographs (OPG) give a broad view of the lower face including maxillary sinuses, nasal cavity, impacted teeth, general tooth development, bone abnormalities and abnormal conditions such as cysts, infections and fractures.

Lateral cephalometric radiographs show the profile of the head and face and are particularly useful in orthodontic treatment.

We also offer 3D CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) scanning. This is also referred to as 3D CT scanning. These scans reveal the body (or sections of the body) as a 3-D image, as opposed to the 2-D images of traditional radiographs. Their usage is increasing and extending in several facets of dental treatment. They are vital in dental implant treatment and complex surgery but are now extending into endodontic and orthodontic treatment also.

For more information on our Cone Beam CT scanning click here

Often patients are sent to radiology practices not attached to their dental practice to obtain radiographic images such as OPG’s, lateral cephalographs or Cone Beam CT scans. At VC Dental we have state-of-the-art facilities with modern digital equipment allowing us to take all intra-oral radiographs as well as OPG, lateral cephalographs and Cone Beam CT scans on site, for instant diagnosis and extra convenience for the patient.

For more information on digital imaging please click here.