There are several types and techniques of x-rays to diagnose specific areas. For example, a “bite-wing” is a type of x-ray that helps clinicians evaluate areas between teeth for cavities that can be observed from a dental exam. A bite-wing also allows hygienists to evaluate whether a patient has a disease of the bone that supports the teeth, which is often indicative of gum disease referred to as periodontitis. Another type of x-ray called “periapical”, or “PA”, is an x-ray taken at an angle to evaluate the health of teeth and jaw around the root of the tooth. Before starting treatment, the provider must first make an evaluation of the health of the root in case there are signs of infection caused by trauma, decay leading to infection, or an existing abscess.
With modern advances, some x-rays can be taken utilizing a handheld device matched with a digital sensor, which has drastically reduced the amount of radiation. With the use of digital technology, clinical personnel often do not need to leave the room as there is not enough to experience a notable dosage of radiation, which keeps providers and patients safe.
There is a new piece of x-ray technology called a cone beam computed topography machine, or “CBCT” which was previously only accessible in hospital settings. A CBCT takes a series of images from several angles as a robotic arm spins around the patient. Digital technology stitches together all of the x-ray images to create a 3-dimensional image that can be reviewed by the provider to evaluate all notable anatomical structures from bone cancer, infection, bone loss, and nerve and sinus health and location. A CBCT takes x-ray technology from a 2-D image to a 3-D interactive image, allowing the provider to examine exact placements and measurements of anatomy. With the CBCT, gone are the days of two-dimensional guesswork. We welcome the 3D generation, giving us the ability to not only diagnose more efficiently and effectively, but to also deliver incredibly precise treatment for the patient.