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If you’ve had dental X-rays, you know how beneficial they can be in finding cavities. But what about dental problems not pertaining to your teeth? Now there’s a dental X-ray that can help your dentist see other areas of your mouth. Much like a panoramic picture, the Panorex X-ray provides a full view of the scenery — in this case, your entire oral cavity!

A Room with a View

The Panorex X-ray is a single picture of all your teeth and surrounding bones. Sometimes referred to as a single FMX, or full mouth X-ray, the Panorex provides a two-dimensional panoramic view of your mouth. The resulting X-ray includes more than just a couple of teeth at a time — and is an excellent alternative to the tiny pictures your dentist has to piece together to see a complete set of your teeth.

The Panorex X-ray also exposes parts of your jaw that can’t be seen with traditional dental X-rays. With a Panorex single FMX, your dentist can view:

  • Your entire upper and lower jawbone
  • Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or jaw joints
  • The nasal sinuses and their surrounding bone
  • The mandibular nerve, which provides sensation to the teeth and gums of the lower jaw

The Ultimate Experience

If you haven’t had a Panorex X-ray yet, you should know it’s nothing like you’ve experienced before. While you’ll still wear a lead apron to protect yourself from radiation, you’ll stand in the center of the machine. The camera rotates in a half circle around your head, staring at one side of the jaw and ending at another. For a clear picture, you’ll need to remain still; don’t worry — it only takes a few seconds for the process to complete.

Use It or Lose It

The Panorex X-ray is an excellent way for dentists to check for problems with the jaw — but as the Panorex X-ray provides an overall view of your mouth, it is not as precise as traditional dental X-rays and may not detect some dental cavities. Your dentist will use bite wings or other types of X-rays to help diagnose dental problems pertaining strictly to your teeth. The Panorex X-ray is often used in the following areas of dental care:

Early Detection of Oral Cancer — Physical symptoms of oral cancer may not become evident until it’s advanced. A panoramic X-ray makes it easier to see cysts and tumors, whether benign or malignant.

TMJ/TMD — A better view of the TMJ makes it easier to diagnose temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Jaw Bone Problems — Your dentist can locate fractures or trauma to the jaw bone. Diseases of the jaw bone are also more evident on a Panorex X- ray.

Gum Disease — Receding bones, a sign of gum disease, can also be seen. Your dentist may be able to recommend the correct gum disease treatment upon viewing your Panorex X-ray.

Tooth and Jaw Development — Your pediatric dentist may use a Panorex X-ray to determine whether your child’s permanent teeth are developing correctly beneath his or her baby teeth. It is also used to check for a malocclusionin adults.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth — Dentists can see the location and angle of which wisdom teeth are impacted, which may help them determine an oral surgery treatment plan.

Dental Restorations — With a Panorex single FMX, your dentist can determine the need for dentures or dental braces and determine the placement of dental implants.

Sinus Problems — Sometimes sinus problems can trigger tooth pain. Diagnosing a sinus condition as the source of your toothache can help prevent the need for unnecessary dental treatment or toothache remedies.

Preparation for Dental Surgery — A panoramic X-ray is often used to locate the mandibular nerve so as not to puncture it during the procedure.

It Just Keeps Getting Better…

There are several other benefits to using a Panorex single FMX. Many dental offices use a digital Panorex X-ray, meaning less radiation than a full set of traditional dental X-rays. Your dental hygienist doesn’t have to constantly come in and out of the room to change film, saving you time. And the Panorex is often used for gaggers, children and others who have a hard time keeping the film in place.

Many dental offices are starting to use a Panorex X-ray as part of a routine checkup and dental cleaning. Like a full set of bitewing X-rays, the Panorex single FMX is used during your initial dental visit and every few years thereafter to check for signs of dental problems. If you’re interested in this dental technology, ask your dentist how it can benefit you.