• Blog >
  • What is a Panoramic Dental XRay and What is it Used For?
RSS Feed

What is a Panoramic Dental XRay and What is it Used For?

A panoramic dental xray is considered a full mouth xray. It shows all your teeth (including ones that haven't come into your mouth) from the biting service to the end of the root, the bone surrounding your teeth, and the jaw joint (TMJ). In most cases we also see your spine on the side of the xray and in a few cases, carotid artery blockages have been detected on panoramic xrays!

This xray gives your dentist a good overview of your mouth. 

  • what teeth you have and what teeth you're missing
  • restorations you have (fillings, crowns, dental implants, root canals)
  • If there is any pathology at the end of tooth roots or in the bones of the jaw
  • bone levels around your teeth and in edentulous areas
  • jaw joint (TMJ) bony anatomy

This xray is not the best one for cavity detection. The reason for this is the way the machine takes the xray, there will often be overlap of the edges of the teeth that hides small areas of decay. Larger areas of decay are often visible however.

Panoramic xrays are similar to the full mouth series of xrays in that they do show an image of each tooth or area of the mouth, but the panoramic xray shows more area than the full mouth series of xrays does. 

We try to take these once every 5 years to check for changes in the bone and for pathology that other types of xrays might miss. (Some insurances cover them once every 3 years. Most cover them once every 5 years, and a few have a longer interval than that between when they will next pay for this type of xray.)