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When you go to the dentist for a check-up, they may take an x-rays of your teeth. X-rays are important because they are used to detect decay under tooth enamel, bone loss, abscess infection, and other oral health problems which a dentist cannot see. Here are the different types of x-rays commonly used in the dental field.


The patient bites down on an x-ray sensor in order for a bitewing to work. This x-ray’s primary purpose is to show cavities that have developed in the teeth in the back of the mouth.


This x-ray has a smaller focus, showing only 2-3 teeth in one image. However, this focus is important for its purpose in displaying the roots of these teeth.


An occlusal x-ray shows the dentist a bite, which is how the upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is closed.


The x-ray machine will rotate around the patient’s head in order to create a complete image of their teeth and jawbone.

Cone Beam CT

This x-ray uses less radiation than a medical CT, but more than other types of dental x-rays. A cone beam CT creates a 3D image of the mouth, but it isn’t used very often in dentistry.