Dental X-Rays

Posted on July 15, 2013

In today’s dentistry, X-rays are very important to help the dentist diagnose and treatment dental problems. It enables us to see what is hidden from our naked eye. For example hidden tooth decay and hidden structures like wisdom teeth. Without the help from X-rays we will be working blind. So some schools recommend X-rays every 6 months to 1 year to scan for potential problems.


In general radiations from dental X-rays are considered safe as they are significantly below the radiation you would expect from medical X-rays. The radiation dose becomes even smaller with the use of digital X-rays; in some instance the radiation dose is about the same as what you get from the sun daily.


There are a few types of dental X-rays available.

Intraoral films which are basically small films placed into the mouth. One film can only capture 3-4 teeth. The common views that we take are periapical and bitewing.


Extraoral films are placed outside of the mouth. It generally refers to panoramic films which we can see all the teeth in the mouth and other surrounding structures.

There may be a need to take both intraoral and extraoral X-rays sometimes.

The most recent development is Dental cone beam CT scan. As you know that normal X-rays are 2D pictures of a 3D object so we may not be able to see all the details.

With the cone beam CT we can actually see detailed 3D images of the structures required.

So for example, impacted wisdom teeth operation we can actually see the details of the surrounding structures so to lower the risk of the operation. Also for it is important to see the exact bone structure before placement of implants to ensure higher success rate.

The radiation of dental cone beam CT is only 1/10 of the medical CT so making a safe option.

Currently only a few dental clinics in Singapore have the cone beam CT scan machine.


Your dentist will recommend the X-rays needed according to individual needs. Please do consult your dentist for further information.

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