If you've had dental X-rays, you know how beneficial they can be in finding cavities. But what about dental problems not pertaining to your teeth? Now there's a dental X-ray that can help your dentist see other areas of your mouth. Much like a panoramic picture, the Panorex X-ray provides a full view of the scenery -- in this case, your entire oral cavity!
A Room With a View
The Panorex X-ray is a single picture of all your teeth and surrounding bones. Sometimes referred to as a single FMX, or full mouth X-ray, the Panorex provides a two-dimensional panoramic view of your mouth. The resulting X-ray includes more than just a couple of teeth at a time -- and is an excellent alternative to the tiny pictures your dentist has to piece together to see a complete set of your teeth.
The Panorex X-ray also exposes parts of your jaw that can't be seen with traditional dental X-rays. With a Panorex single FMX, your dentist can view:
- Your entire upper and lower jawbone
- Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or jaw joints
- The nasal sinuses and their surrounding bone
- The mandibular nerve, which provides sensation to the teeth and gums of the lower jaw
The Ultimate Experience
If you haven't had a Panorex X-ray yet, you should know it's nothing like you've experienced before. While you'll still wear a lead apron to protect yourself from radiation, you'll stand in the center of the machine. The camera rotates in a half circle around your head, staring at one side of the jaw and ending at another. For a clear picture, you'll need to remain still; don't worry -- it only takes a few seconds for the process to complete.
Use It or Lose It
The Panorex X-ray is an excellent way for dentists to check for problems with the jaw -- but as the Panorex X-ray provides an overall view of your mouth, it is not as precise as traditional dental X-rays and may not detect some dental cavities. Your dentist will use bite wings or other types of X-rays to help diagnose dental problems pertaining strictly to your teeth. The Panorex X-ray is often used in the following areas of dental care:
Early Detection of Oral Cancer -- Physical symptoms of oral cancer may not become evident until it's advanced. A panoramic X-ray makes it easier to see cysts and tumors, whether benign or malignant.
TMJ/TMD -- A better view of the TMJ makes it easier to diagnose temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.
Jaw Bone Problems -- Your dentist can locate fractures or trauma to the jaw bone. Diseases of the jaw bone are also more evident on a Panorex X-ray.