What is Panoramic X-ray?
Panoramic radiography, also called panoramic x-ray, is a two-dimensional (2-D) dental x-ray examination that captures the entire mouth in a single image, including the teeth, upper and lower jaws, surrounding structures and tissues.
The jaw is a curved structure similar to that of a horseshoe. However, the panoramic x-ray produces a flat image of the curved structure. It usually provides details of the bones and teeth.
An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.
Unlike a traditional intraoral x-ray where the film/x-ray detector is placed inside of the mouth, the film for a panoramic x-ray is contained inside of the machine.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
A panoramic x-ray is a commonly performed examination by dentists and oral surgeons in everyday practice and is an important diagnostic tool. It covers a wider area than a conventional intraoral x-ray and, as a result, provides valuable information about the maxillary sinuses, tooth positioning and other bone abnormalities. This examination is also used to plan treatment for full and partial dentures, braces, extractions and implants.
A panoramic x-ray can also reveal dental and medical problems such as:
advanced periodontal disease
cysts in the jaw bones
jaw tumors and oral cancer
impacted teeth including wisdom teeth
jaw disorders (also known as temporomandibular joint or TMJ disorders)
What are the benefits vs. risks?
No radiation remains in a patient’s body after an x-ray examination.
X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam.
Panoramic x-rays can be used for very young children since the film does not have to be placed inside the mouth.
Women should always inform their dentist or oral surgeon if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See the Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.