Getting an oral X-ray can be exciting and intensely nerve racking for some people. While sometimes uncomfortable for the patient, the use of dental x-rays is very important to understand exactly what is happening inside someone’s mouth. It can both tell a story of what your teeth have been through as well as predict where they are heading. But dental X-rays aren’t as simple as ‘point-and-shoot’. There are several different types of X-rays you may have taken of your mouth on your next visit.

The biggest thing to understand about X-rays on your teeth is that they are broken down into two different categories:


These X-rays are taken from outside of your mouth and focus mainly on the development of the jaw and the way that your teeth fixate and interact with your skull. Although it does provide a wide angled look at your teeth and can be a great indicator of a problem you’re experiencing, extraoral X-rays are usually used for identifying the habits of impacted teeth.


These X-rays are taken very close up, sometimes even inside of your mouth. They are more focused on individual teeth and their association with one another. Dentists mostly use an intraoral X-ray to identify a game plan for crowns or fillings that are needed on specific teeth. They can also provide some in depth detail about a certain tooth’s root and shape.

Extraoral is usually done with a radial scan, which is that machine where you stick your head on the headrest and the X-ray camera rotates around your head to scan. This provides a very large overview of your teeth so that things like symmetry and impacted teeth can be identified and hopefully dealt with. However Intraoral can be taken several different ways:

Bite Wing X-rays

These are taken of the back teeth near your supposed wisdom tooth area. The ‘wings’ of your mouth are X-rayed by biting down on the small plate and imaging few back teeth on both the upper and lower rows. From here dentists can examine bone density and root interaction with gums.

Periapical X- ray

Considered a very close up shot, a periapical X-ray picks a single tooth and shows the entire structure of it. From the crown all the way to where the roots meet the jaw bone, these scans are used to detect abnormalities in a root or bone structure as well as get accurate dimensions of a tooth and it’s crown for future procedures.

X-rays are very big part of oral hygiene and dentistry. They can give great insight to things that the normal human eye cannot necessarily see. These routine scans are not painful and patients have nothing to fear when getting them done. To schedule your next dental checkup and possible X-ray session, contact Sugar Land Dental Spa today!