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Dental X-Rays

While routine cleanings and checkups are an important way to maintain a healthy smile, there is a lot about your oral health that can’t be seen just by looking in the mirror. Cavities, infection, damage, and decay are all examples of hidden problems that can compromise your health but can’t always be identified during a visual exam.

Dental X-rays are just one of the many dental care services offered at Monarch Dental. We use state-of-the-art imaging equipment and machines to help diagnose problems and give you a better overall picture of your oral health. In addition to including dental X-rays as part of an annual exam, Monarch Dental provides all of the comprehensive services you and your family need to keep a healthy smile, from preventative treatments to restorative and cosmetic procedures.

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How do dental X-rays work?

Dental X-rays, also known as dental radiographs, use controlled pulses of radiation to create images of the internal structures of the jaw and mouth.

Dental X-rays can find and image:

  • Cavities
  • Bone or gum loss
  • Periodontal disease
  • Tumors
  • Abnormal structures within the lower portion of the head

For children and adolescents, they are also helpful in identifying permanent teeth that have not yet erupted and imaging root structures in preparation for orthodontic work.

Like other types of X-rays, dental X-rays take advantage of the natural differences in density between the soft tissues in the mouth and the bones of the jaw. For example, jawbones, teeth, crowns, and fillings show up as light areas while the soft, less-dense tissue appears darker. Cavities easily appear on X-rays because they are less dense than the teeth they affect. 

Are dental X-rays safe?

Although dental X-rays use radiation to achieve light-dark contrasts, the level of radiation and time of exposure poses minimal risk. Exposure is further reduced with new digital X-ray technology, and patients are always protected with lead aprons, collars, and shields.  

When should I get dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays play an important role in maintaining good oral health because they can help detect irregularities or areas of concern before they become bigger problems, saving you time, money, and discomfort. X-rays are typically performed every year during one of your bi-annual checkups, but there may be occasions in between when an X-ray is necessary, such as in preparation for a treatment or procedure or to monitor areas of damage or decay.

What can I expect during my dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays are usually administered as part of an examination and teeth cleaning and are performed by either a dental hygienist or technician. Depending on the office setup, you may either remain in the treatment chair for your X-rays or you may be taken into a separate room. Either way, you’ll be given some kind of protection to wear, such as a lead apron. 

Then, you’ll bite down on a type of film or oral sensor that permits the X-ray machine to see inside your mouth more clearly, and the hygienist or technician will take an image. After each image is created, the film or sensor will be adjusted and the X-ray camera moved until the technician has all of the images at all the necessary angles for the dentist to review.

Types of Dental X-Rays 

There are three basic types of intraoral X-rays your dentist will use to get a better image of your teeth, jaw, and mouth, and each type addresses specific areas of the mouth. 

Bitewing view

Bitewing views are split between the upper and lower parts of the jaw and help your dentist identify cavities and bone loss in the crowns of your teeth as well as below the gumline. Bitewing views generally image the rear halves of the upper and lower jaws.

Periapical view

Periapical views are lower views that expose the root structures of the teeth in more detail. They are helpful in pinpointing the source of nerve pain and identifying impacted or extra teeth hidden in the gums. Periapical views are often used before periodontal procedures, endodontic therapy, and root canals.

Occlusal view

Occlusal views X-rays are used to examine the bone structures of the upper and lower jaws and can sometimes detect blocked salivary ducts, bone loss, or even tumors. 

Unless your dentist is looking for a specific issue in a particular part of your jaw or mouth, you’ll usually receive an X-ray series that includes multiple versions of bitewing and periapical images, so the dentist can examine your entire mouth.

What other types of dental imaging are there?

In certain situations, you may also receive additional dental or intraoral imaging. The following are often administered in patients with facial trauma, malignant masses, or other rare conditions.


Cephalograms are extraoral X-rays that can help identify the causes of malocclusion and establish the proportions and relationships of the facial bones. They are often used before dental implants or fitting dentures.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view X-rays combine all of the components of a complete mouth X-ray into one large, comprehensive image. They are useful in examining things like fractures and jaw abnormalities.

Professional, Affordable Dental X-Rays at Monarch Dental

X-rays are an important preventative service that can help preserve and maintain your oral health for a lifetime. You can receive dental X-rays at any of Monarch Dental’s convenient locations, making it easy for you and your family to get the care you need. And, with flexible scheduling, extended hours and Saturday appointments at some offices, and a variety of payment options, we make sure that care fits both your budget and your busy life. Find the Monarch Dental nearest you and schedule an appointment today!