The panoramic x-ray, or Panorex as it was first called, is a wonderful modern invention. It has much less radiation than a traditional full set of eighteen (18) smaller x-rays and it much more comfortable for the patient to have taken. The panoramic x-ray can also be taken very quickly and is especially helpful when a patient is in pain.Typically, a panoramic x-ray should be taken every three (3) years and having a series of them on the same patient can assist the dentist in later determining whether changes seen in the panoramic x-ray are normal or not.
Advantages of Panoramic X-Ray
The panoramic x-ray shows the dentist a patient’s nasal area, sinuses, jaw joints, teeth and surrounding bone. It can reveal cysts, tumors, bone irregularities, and much more.The panoramic x-ray usually shows both jaw joints and an unusual flattening in the joint can mean that this patient has a TMJ problem. The lower jaw, called the mandible, can also have an indentation on its lower boarder when a patient’s beaver muscle ( masseter ) has been clenching and grinding. The panoramic x-ray shows the entire mandible, including all of its lower boarder. A full mouth series of smaller x-rays would not show this indentation.
The panoramic x-ray shows impacted teeth that are buried deep inside the jaw bones. Because we take a panoramic x-ray on every patient . Many dentists do not look at the nasal and sinus areas but the panoramic x-ray shows most of the maxillary sinuses and the nasal opening. Panoramic x-ray examination of the maxillary sinuses can show polyps in the sinus, abnormal liquids in the sinus, and can show when the roots of the upper teeth stick into the sinus cavity. This is very important because some toothaches are caused by sinus problems and nothing should be done to the teeth. In this case, the panoramic x-ray can help avoid unnecessary dental treatment.
The panoramic x-ray is not the same as a full mouth set of dental x-rays. The panoramic x-ray shows much more of the patient than a bunch of smaller x-rays. Very often the nerve going to the lower lip, the mandibular nerve, can not be seen in a full mouth set. Paralyzing the manibular nerve is a possible complication of dental implant surgery, so it is very important to have a panorex x-ray whenever dental implant surgery is planned.