Dental X-Rays

Dental X-Rays: Types and How They’re Used

When your teeth or gums hurt, it is common to go to the dentist. And, while they can look in your mouth and see whatever may be at the surface, they must take an x-ray for an accurate assessment. Of course, x-rays are also a part of at least one of your dental exams each year. They identify concerns such as cavities or impacted teeth. Your dentists can also track TMJ issues and identify malocclusion. They are commonly only performed once a year. However, they can be more often if your dentist needs to track the progress of a specific concern.

Types of Dental X-Rays

There are two main types of dental x-rays: Intraoral and extraoral. As you might surmise, extraoral dental X-rays are panoramic and dental scan photographs taken outside the mouth. These X-rays focus on the jaw and skull. Intraoral X-rays are those taken from inside the mouth.

Intraoral X-Rays

Bitewings – Made by biting down on a bite plate placed at the back of the mouth.

Periapical – Used to get a better look at just one or two teeth. These are especially helpful for determining the cause of localized tooth pain or in the event of an injury.

Occlusal X-rays – Used to note full tooth development and placement.

Intraoral X-rays are used to do the following:

  • Find cavities
  • Check the health of the tooth root and bone surrounding the tooth
  • For children, it lets the dentist assess tooth development
  • Monitor the overall health of your teeth and jawbone

Extraoral X-Rays

Dental X-Rays

Panoramic – Scans the entire mouth on a single ray. Used to identify impacted teeth, emerging teeth, and any tumors.

Tomograms – Shows a portion of the mouth in specific detail.

Cephalometric – Most commonly used in orthodontist offices to examine teeth in relation to the jaw and profile.

Unlike the detail obtained with intraoral X-rays, extraoral X-rays have a broader scope of usage. They are used for:

  • Identifying impacted teeth
  • Monitoring the growth and development of the jaws as they related to tooth growth
  • Note problems between the teeth and jaw, the most familiar being that of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

How Do Dentists Use X-rays?

  1. Diagnose problems sooner rather than later
  2. Make a plan for an emergency or upcoming treatment, such as implants, braces, or dentures
  3. Evaluate the progress of a treatment
  4. Assess your bite, especially with impending orthodontic work
  5. Detect gum disease and check oral health status
  6. Determine the risks of tooth decay and cavities
  7. Monitor changes in your teeth and gums over time
  8. Identify and determine treatment for abscesses

Dental X-rays are a great way to ensure your smile is everything you want it to be. Talk to our dental team at  if you have questions about x-rays and our procedures.

Family Dentist

Choosing the Right Family Dentist

Choosing the right dentist for your family is a crucial decision that impacts the dental health and well-being of all family members.  It involves more than just finding a skilled professional; it’s about finding a practitioner who meets your family’s specific needs, preferences, and comfort levels. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting the right dentist for your family:

Credentials and Experience:

Ensure the dentist is properly licensed and has the necessary qualifications. Check their experience, especially in dealing with the specific dental needs of your family, such as pediatric dentistry for children or orthodontics for teenagers.

Family DentistServices Offered:

Look for a dental office that provides a wide range of services. This is particularly important for families, as different members may require different types of dental care, from routine cleanings to more specialized treatments like braces or cosmetic dentistry.

Atmosphere and Environment:

Visit the dental office to get a feel for the environment. A family-friendly office should be welcoming and comfortable for both children and adults, with a patient and understanding staff.

Location and Office Hours:

Convenience is key. Choose a dentist who is located near your home or work and offers office hours that fit your schedule. This makes it easier to attend appointments and reduces stress.

Dental Anxiety and Patient Comfort:

If any family member has dental anxiety, it’s important to choose a dentist who is skilled at managing anxiety and making patients feel at ease. Inquire about the availability of sedation dentistry or other accommodations to help alleviate fear and discomfort.

Insurance and Payment Options:

Check if the dentist accepts your dental insurance and understand the payment options available. Some dental offices offer flexible payment plans or discounts for families, which can be beneficial.

Emergency Care:

Inquire about the provision for emergency dental care. A dentist who offers emergency services can be invaluable in case of an unexpected dental issue.

Patient Reviews and Recommendations:

Read online reviews and ask friends, family, or neighbors for recommendations. Personal experiences can give you a better idea of what to expect from the dentist.

Pediatric Dentistry:

For families with children, it’s important to find a dentist who is experienced in pediatric dentistry. They should be skilled in handling young patients and making them feel comfortable during their visit.

Communication Style:

Effective communication is key. Choose a dentist who listens to your concerns, explains treatments clearly, and is open to discussing all available options.

In summary, finding the right dentist for your family involves a combination of research, visiting potential offices, and considering the specific needs and preferences of your family members. A good family dentist should not only provide high-quality dental care but also create a comfortable and welcoming environment for all ages.  At Kiessling Family Dentistry in Harrisburg, PA, we’re honored to be your chosen family dentist.