What Is a Panoramic X-Ray?

Regular x-rays are a key part of good dental care. X-rays give us essential diagnostic information so we can provide preventative dental care and address developing problems as early as possible.

On top of your yearly check-up x-rays, we may occasionally need an extra image or two.

What is a panoramic x-ray, and what can it do that your regular check-up x-rays can’t?

What Is a Panoramic X-Ray?

Just like you might take a panoramic photo to show the entire view from a mountain top, a panoramic x-ray is a wide diagnostic image that shows your complete set of teeth. Not only that, it also shows all the bones that support your teeth, your full jaw bone, both jaw joints, and even a little bit of your sinus, skull, and upper spine!

When you’re getting a panoramic x-ray (or “pano” for short), you won’t have to bite on those uncomfortable x-ray holders. Instead, you’ll stand (or sit if necessary) with just a chin rest and a small bite piece to hold you in the right position.

The machine will move slowly around your head, capturing a full view of your complete dental anatomy which we can use for a wide range of assessments.

How Is a Panoramic Dental X-Ray Different from Regular X-Rays?

About once per year, most patients should get regular check-up x-rays called bitewings. These take close-up pictures of your back teeth, which are most prone to decay.

A panoramic x-ray doesn’t have a bitewing’s high-resolution detail. That means panos aren’t useful for identifying problems like small cavities or hardened tartar deposits between the teeth.

On the other hand, those routine x-rays are only useful for close-up images of about one to three teeth. They can sometimes show the very top edge of the supporting bone, but can’t reach the deeper areas of bone, or get far enough to the back to show the jaw joints.

Do Kids Need Panoramic X-Rays?

Children’s teeth develop mostly unseen, hidden beneath the baby teeth and bone. That also leaves potential problems in the dark. Panoramic x-rays for children can show us how the permanent teeth are developing, make sure they’re all there, and help us treat certain positional and developmental issues before they become more complicated.

What is the Dentist Looking for on a Child’s Panoramic X-Ray?

If you’ve never seen a child’s panoramic x-ray, it can look really crazy.

panoramic x-ray

Even though it seems chaotic at first glance, these images show us a ton of information. We can see the permanent teeth developing, make sure they’re all there, and check for potential problems. We can also evaluate that the jawbone and joints are developing properly. We can use your child’s panoramic dental x-ray to recommend an appropriate time to consult with the orthodontist, too!


When Should Kids Get Panoramic X-Rays?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, developmental dental anomalies (meaning problems with the shape, position, size, or structure of the teeth and jaws) can be effectively detected in children using panoramic x-rays.

Kids should get a pano at ages 9, 12, and 16. These are key ages for the development of your child’s teeth, jaws, and supporting structures. For example, a panoramic x-ray around age 16 gives us a chance to evaluate the developing wisdom teeth and make the least invasive plan of action for them!

Are Panoramic Dental X-Rays Necessary for Adults?

Panoramic x-rays are useful for a variety of assessments for adults, too. We recommend occasional routine panos for adults about every 3-5 years.

They can show hidden problems like bone tumors that can develop undetected for years. A pano can also show us the health of your jaw joint and warn of problems that can lead to arthritis and TMJ disorder. We can also use them to detect cysts, oral cancers, and periodontal problems.

If you need treatments like dental implants, a panoramic x-ray is usually one of the first images you’ll need. Likewise, patients with dentures need occasional panoramic x-rays to monitor the health of the remaining bone structure that once supported their teeth.

Where Can I Get the Best Panoramic X-Ray Near Me?

With today’s advanced digital diagnostics, this ain’t your grandma’s pano! At Lake Baldwin Dental, our panoramic x-ray machine is actually a cone beam CT scanner, meaning it can do so much more than the average pano.

Our CBCT scanner can take detailed measurements of the exact dimensions of your teeth, bone, and even your airway! It can render a detailed high-resolution 3D digital replica of anything from a single tooth to your entire skull… although we haven’t needed to use that button yet.

In some cases, we may even be able to create suitable close-up images for patients who can’t tolerate normal bitewings, whether because of the shape of their mouth or a severe gag reflex.

If you’re looking for comprehensive care with the most cutting-edge diagnostic imaging including panoramic x-rays near you in Orlando, FL, we’ve got you covered! Keep smiling, Orlando!

Our CBCT scanner can do more than just regular panos!