Panoramic x-rays take a full panorama of your teeth, wrapping around your head so that the dentist can see every angle of your teeth, jaw, and gums. This gives the dentist insight into whether there are any wisdom teeth developing, any early cavities, and any bone loss or fractures. Although many of us do not like having an x-ray because of the taste and feeling of the film that has to be placed in their mouth, panoramic x-rays do not need this because the film is in the machine. If your dentist has recommended that you receive a digital x-ray, it may be because they want to understand TMJ progression, spot an impacted tooth, look for a cyst, diagnose a gag reflex, start to plan for braces or dentures, or even look for gum disease.
The panoramic x-ray is performed by a rotating arm, and this is the part that has the film inside it which creates the x-ray itself. Most of the time, the patient will stand normally and allow the arm to move around it slowly. It is obviously very important that the patient does not move at all – not even their teeth! If they do so, then the image will be completely blurred, and not only will the image by useless, but it will have to be done again.
Now that the dentist has a full and clear image of what is going on in your head, they will be able to zoom in and look at any problem spots in more detail. They should be able to diagnose a few things just from the panoramic x-ray that has been created, and as they use a smaller amount of radiation than the traditional type of x-ray, they are much better and safer for the patient.