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Panoramic Radiographs – Cochrane

At Bow River Dental Centre, one of our go-to technologies is panoramic radiographs. Indeed, if you’ve recently visited your dentist, you might have seen your last panoramic dental x-ray on the treatment screen.

What Is a Panoramic Radiograph?

Panoramic radiographs are single-image dental x-rays that show your entire oral cavity and surrounding facial structures. You may have seen them referred to by their technical terms, orthopantomogram, OPT, or OPG x-ray.

As essential preventative tools, panoramic radiographs help your dentist see everything above and below the gums that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Their efficacy is further elucidated by additional dental technology like microscopes and lasers.

How Are Panoramic Radiographs Used?

Checking out what lies below the surface of your gums is what dentistry is all about! While your teeth and gums have a story to tell, a panoramic radiograph is used to reveal and confirm the hard facts, such as:

  • Oral and/or jaw cancer tumors.
  • Abscesses and other tooth infections below the gum line or at the tooth’s root.
  • Symptoms of gum disease, specifically jaw bone loss and missing teeth.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth, which can cause crowding and misalignment.
  • Difficult-to-spot tooth decay, especially between teeth or under fillings.
  • Having too many or too few teeth, known as hyper- or hypodontia. 

Panoramic radiographs are also essential for referrals. There are many circumstances where your dentist will need to share a comprehensive view of your current oral health with another dental practitioner, like an orthodontist or specialized surgeon. A panoramic radiograph is ideal here, as it is the quintessential picture worth a thousand words!

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FAQs About Panoramic Radiographs

Are panoramic radiographs safe?

While panoramic radiographs do involve radiation exposure, it is in very small quantities that do not remain in the body. For this reason, dental x-rays are considered safe for radiation-sensitive individuals, including babies and small children. 

That being said, if you are pregnant, it might not be safe for you to get a panoramic radiograph or dental x-ray of any kind. Please be sure to bring up your pregnancy with your dentist or radiographer. They may decide to postpone the radiograph until after pregnancy.

At Bow River Dental, you are in the hands of experienced professionals who perform all procedures in line with the highest standards of care and safety. Your comfort is our top priority! Please always feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about any of our equipment or procedures.

How often do panoramic radiographs need to be taken?

In general, it is recommended for all dental patients to have a panoramic radiograph taken every 6-24 months. Each case is unique and some might require more regular radiographs.

What is the procedure for getting a panoramic radiograph?

It takes 10-20 seconds to capture a panoramic radiograph for immediate digital use. To get prepared for having a dental x-ray, you will be asked to remove any accessories that might obscure the images. You will wear a lead apron to protect your body from radiation exposure. It is important to note that dental X-rays emit very low levels of radiation. To keep your mouth open to attain the clearest image, you will be asked to bite down on a thin block and remain completely still while the image is being taken.

Do I have to sit or stand to get a panoramic radiograph?

The radiograph is fully adjustable and accessible, accommodating wheelchair users and patients who need to sit or stand.

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