Dental X-rays, also known as radiographs, are invaluable tools in modern dentistry. They provide dentists with crucial diagnostic information that is not visible during a routine dental examination. These images help identify dental issues, plan treatments, and monitor oral health. In this article, we will delve into the different types of dental X-rays in Seattle WA and other regions of the world, each serving a specific purpose in dental care.

Bitewing X-Rays

Bitewing X-rays are among the most common types used in dentistry. These X-rays capture images of the upper and lower back teeth, allowing dentists to detect cavities and monitor changes in the bone density caused by gum disease. Bitewing X-rays are typically taken during routine check-ups and can reveal early signs of dental problems.

Periapical X-Rays

Periapical X-rays focus on a specific tooth, capturing the entire tooth from crown to root, as well as the surrounding bone and supporting tissues. These X-rays are instrumental in diagnosing issues such as abscesses, impacted teeth, and root abnormalities. They provide detailed information about a single tooth’s condition.

Panoramic X-Rays

Panoramic X-rays provide a comprehensive view of the entire mouth in a single image. They capture the teeth, jaws, sinuses, and surrounding structures, making them useful for assessing the overall oral health and identifying issues like impacted wisdom teeth, jaw disorders, and oral cancers. Panoramic X-rays are particularly helpful in treatment planning for orthodontics and oral surgeries.

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

CBCT is an advanced form of X-ray imaging that creates a 3D representation of the oral and facial structures. It is commonly used in complex dental procedures such as dental implant placement, oral surgeries, and orthodontic treatment planning. CBCT offers detailed information about bone density, tooth position, and anatomical structures, aiding in precise treatment planning.

Occlusal X-Rays

Occlusal X-rays are primarily used to capture images of the upper and lower teeth as they come together when the jaw is closed. These X-rays are helpful in diagnosing issues related to bite problems, jaw fractures, and the presence of extra teeth. Occlusal X-rays can also reveal developmental abnormalities in children’s teeth.

Orthodontic X-Rays

Orthodontic X-rays, also known as cephalometric X-rays, are essential for orthodontic treatment planning. They provide images of the entire head, enabling orthodontists to assess facial growth, tooth alignment, and jaw relationships. Orthodontic X-rays help orthodontists develop personalized treatment plans for braces or other orthodontic appliances.


In conclusion, dental X-rays are invaluable diagnostic tools in dentistry, allowing dentists and specialists to assess oral health comprehensively. Bitewing X-rays help detect cavities, while periapical X-rays focus on individual teeth. Panoramic X-rays provide a broad view of the entire oral region, while CBCT offers 3D imaging for complex procedures. Occlusal X-rays aid in diagnosing bite-related issues, and orthodontic X-rays are crucial for orthodontic treatment planning. The choice of X-ray type depends on the specific diagnostic needs of the patient and the nature of the dental issue. Together, these X-ray modalities play a vital role in ensuring accurate diagnoses and effective treatment in dental care.