Panoramic x-rays (also known as Panorex® or orthopantomograms) are wraparound digital photographs of the face and teeth. They offer a view that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. X-rays in general, expose hidden structures, such as wisdom teeth, reveal preliminary signs of cavities, and also show fractures and bone loss.
Unlike bitewing x-rays that need to be taken every few years, panoramic x-rays are generally only taken on an as-needed basis. A panoramic x-ray is not conducted to give a detailed view of each tooth, but rather to provide a better view of the sinus areas, nasal areas and mandibular nerve. Panoramic x-rays are preferable to bitewing x-rays when a patient is in extreme pain, and when a sinus problem is suspected to have caused dental problems.
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 and abnormalities
- Expose impacted teeth
- Expose jawbone fractures
- Plan treatment (full and partial dentures, braces and implants)
- Reveal gum disease and cavities
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