Dental Radiography

Dental radiography is a picture of dental units, jaws and surrounding tissues, performed by exposure to electromagnetic radiation. These radiations have the ability to penetrate through the body and to be absorbed in varying degrees, depending on the density of the tissue. Thus, denser structures are shown with white, soft tissues are shown in grey and cavities are showed in black, radiographs looking like negatives of photographs.

Dental radiography is the most commonly used laboratory test by dentists, helping them to discover problems that cannot be seen with the eye on a simple consultation.

Types of dental radiographs

  1. Intraoral dental radiography. They are most commonly used in dentistry, the film being located inside the mouth.
  • Bitewing Radiographs. These radiographs highlight tooth crowns, showing both upper and lower tooth crowns properly. You can find the most common dental problems: decay, loss of bone density, plaque, and gum disease.
  • Retro-alveolar radiography offers an entire picture of the teeth, including crown, root, and alveolar bone. With this radiographs the dentists can identify abscess, tooth decay, periodontal disease, gum disease, status of dental restorations, impacted teeth, and presence of tartar or fissures
  • Occlusal radiography. This type of scan is larger than the first two and shows the development and localization of teeth. Such X-ray radiography includes the entire arch, superior or inferior. It is still used to detect unerupted teeth, cysts, jaw fractures, foreign objects, and abscesses.


  1. Extraoral dental radiographs are taken with the film outside the oral cavity and are much larger. They focus on the skull and jaw, depicting an image of the entire tooth. Extraoral radiographs are less detailed and are useful in monitoring development and relationship of the facial bones and jaw with teeth.


  • Orthopantomography offers the image of the entire jaw and teeth on one film. This type of x-ray image records inaccessible areas such as TMJ or wisdom teeth and highlights jaw fractures and other affections.
  • Front and profile cephalograms highlight entire skull and are used to examine teeth and jaws in relation with patient’s profile. It is used mainly by orthodontists.
  • Sialografia highlights salivary glands in a radiography using contrast agents. This helps to diagnose specific salivary gland diseases – Sjogren’s disease, blockages, etc.
  • Computed tomography reveals dental structures through two-dimensional “sliced” images from inside the body, enabling high precision measurements to be made in the edge of the jaw, in the sinuses, upper arch and nasal passages. With its help doctors identify problems of the facial bones (fractures or tumors)

Dental Radiography and risks to human body

These types of X-rays do not interfere with the health of the body, because the amount of X-rays emitted during the exposure is very low. Every day we are exposed to various amounts of radiation in the environment – mobile phone, microwave oven, which does not affect us, but they accumulate in the body. Therefore doctors recommend a number of X-rays per year, pregnant women and breastfeeding women are given special precautions, but as a precautionary measure because dental radiography exclusively targets the jaw and the body is protected by lead apron.

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