Local Dental Blogs - Philadelphia, PA

All About Dental X-Ray Scans

Whether you’re going in for your regular checkup or you have a problem with your teeth, your dentist will start off by visually examining your teeth to look for any issues.

However, some information — and even potential problems — are invisible to the eye.

That’s where a dental x-ray comes in.

Much like any other x-ray technology, dental x-rays help dental professionals find signs of disease or other problems that they otherwise couldn’t see with the naked eye.

Below, we’ll explore why you need these, what they can show, a few types, and how often you need to get them done.

Why Do You Need X-Ray Scans?

Dentists can see the surfaces of your teeth, but it’s much harder to see in between them — and impossible to see inside them.

Just like doctors might x-ray your arm to see the bones within, a dentist performs x-rays to more clearly see these spots between and inside your teeth.

They can examine other dental structures as well, such as your tooth roots, jawbone, and much more.

Ultimately, the x-ray helps dentists find hidden signs of potential problems so they can be addressed early.

What Can Dental X-Ray Scans Show?

Dental x-rays help dentists see several things, such as:

  • Abscesses
  • Cavities
  • Decay
  • Jawbone loss from periodontal disease
  • Tooth position (for general knowledge and for device fitting)
  • Tumors

As you can see, x-rays are a great help in finding signs of disease and stopping it before it worsens.

Types of X-Rays:


Bitewing x-rays let dentists see both upper and lower sets of your back teeth in one image. These can be used to monitor for wisdom teeth, find decay between teeth, look for bone loss in cases of advanced gum disease, and check alignment between upper and lower back teeth.


Panoramic x-rays show many portions of your face and head: teeth, jaws (including the joints), nasal area, and sinuses. With panoramic x-rays, dentists can look for infections, bone irregularities, impacted teeth, cysts and tumors, and fractures.


Periapical x-rays focus on one tooth. They show the tooth in its entirety, from the crown of the tooth all the way to the end of the root and the jawbone. Periapical x-rays are helpful for looking at various problems affecting a single tooth, especially issues that may be hidden below the gum line or in the jaw.


Occlusal x-rays show dentists the roof or floor of your mouth. These x-rays help them find extra teeth, jaw fractures, teeth still growing through the gums, cleft palate, cysts, abscesses, or growths. Sometimes, they’re used to find a foreign object located in the mouth.

How Often Do You Need to Update Your X-Ray Scans?

The exact update frequency depends on medical and dental history. According to the American Dental Association, someone with tooth decay or increased cavity risk should get new x-rays every 6-12 months. 

On the other hand, people with no issues may be able to go up to 3 years with no new x-rays.

If you need some new dental x-rays or your next general dental checkup in Philadelphia, come to Absolute Smile. Our experienced professionals are happy to help you ensure your teeth and mouth are clean and problem-free. Contact us today to schedule your appointment — all new patients get a free consultation.

Return Top Trackback Permalink
Trackback URL:


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars Currently rated 0.00 by 0 people


Got something to say? Join the discussion »

Leave a Reply

How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Change Your Life

Are you unsure if cosmetic dentistry is right for you? Not sure if it is worth it? Check out this FREE article that will help you understand!

How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Change Your Life