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Panoramic X ray

The Panoramic x-ray or Panorex as it was initially called is considered the 'work horse' of dentistry. The Panorex is a large single x ray film that shows the entire bony structure of the teeth and the face. It covers a much wider area than a traditional intra oral film showing structures outside of their range including sinuses, temperomandibular joints as well as the position of the wisdom teeth. The panoramic x ray has the ability to scan the region of oral pharynx and surrounding tissues thereby increasing the dentist's diagnostic capabilities. The uninterrupted panoramic film is the most commonly used for obtaining clearly portrayed image of orofacial structures in dentistry. Other dental X-rays include:

Bitewing x ray uses the least amount of radiation. It shows the upper and lower back teeth in a single view. They are used to detect decay between the teeth and to show how well the upper and lower teeth line up. Bitewing also indicates bone loss and the presence of severe gum disease or dental infection.

Periapical x rays show the entire supportive system of the tooth from the exposed crown to the end of the root and bones. They are used to detect dental problems below the gum line or the jaw. They also help to detect impacted teeth.

Panoramic x rays belong to the broad category of x rays called tomographs. The amount of radiation needed to expose a panoramic film is about the same as the radiation needed to expose two intra oral films. It is advised to use lead apron during panoramic x ray. In panoramic x ray, the x ray source passes around the patient and behind their head at a slight upward angle. Use of a lead apron helps in optimal prevention of the patient's body from scatter radiation of the panoramic x ray beam. Special panoramic lead aprons are available that cover both the back and front of the patient without interfering with the path of the X ray beam.


  • Cysts, tumors, bone irregularities are also revealed in panoramic x ray.

  • Impacted teeth that may be buried deep inside the jaw bone are shown in panoramic x ray.

  • Panoramic x ray is usually taken when the wisdom teeth (third molars) are being evaluated.

  • Panoramic x ray is used in dental implant surgery as it clearly reveals the possible complications in mandibular nerves.

  • Panoramic x ray can also identify some not so common problems such as calcification within the carotid artery that may be indicative of a potential stroke.

  • Panoramic films are especially good for forensic purposes in the identification of otherwise unrecognizable bodies after plane crashes or mishaps.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: August 21, 2019