What are the different types of dental X-rays?

Bitewings-the X-ray plastic sensor has a little tab in the middle that the patient bites on with their back teeth to detect decay.

Periapicals (PA)-these X-ray pictures are used to look at the roots of teeth. Each periapical X-ray picture can only look at two or three teeth.

Panoramic X-ray-a machine that rotates around the outside of the head takes this picture. It can show all the jaw bones and teeth.


How much radiation is used in dental X-rays?


Radiation Source                                    

Days of Background Radiation               


1 day                                                      

Airline Passenger (4 hour flight)            

1 day                                                      

2 Dental Bitewing X-rays                       

1 day                                                     

1 Dental Panoramic X-ray                     

1 day                                                     

1 Head CT                                             

243 days                                               


How can we reduce the radiation to my child?

The amount of radiation from one dental X-ray picture is very small. Still, it is important to keep the radiation amount as low as possible.

  • X-ray pictures are based specifically on your child’s needs, not merely as a routine test
  • Up to date digital equipment and techniques
  • Thyroid collars and lead aprons are used to shield and protect your child
  • Child size exposure times


Declining dental X-rays based on unfounded fears regarding radiation exposure removes an important diagnostic tool from a dentist’s repertoire.  X-rays are an essential diagnostic tool with dentists relying on them for:

  • exposing hidden dental decay,
  • revealing dental abscesses, cysts and tumors,
  • showing impacted or extra teeth,
  • determining the condition of fillings, crowns, bridges, and root canals,
  • locating tarter build-up,
  • finding foreign bodies within the gum or bone, and
  • identifying bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease and whether enough bone for dental implant placements


Who should I talk to if I still have concerns about dental X-rays for my child?

If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to share them with the Dentist or Dental Technician.