Panoramic X-rays

Panoramic images (also known as Panorex® or orthopantomograms) are wraparound photographs of the face and teeth.  They offer a view that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.  Panoramic images in general, expose hidden structures, such as wisdom teeth, reveal preliminary signs of cavities, and also show fractures and bone loss.

Panoramic images are extraoral and simple to perform.  Usually, dental X-rays involve the film being placed inside the mouth, but panoramic film is hidden inside a mechanism that rotates around the outside of the head.

Panoramic images are generally only taken on an as-needed basis.  A panoramic images is not conducted to give a detailed view of each tooth, but rather to provide a better view of the sinus areas, nasal areas and mandibular nerve.  

Panoramic Images are extremely versatile in dentistry, and are used to:

  • Assess patients with an extreme gag reflex.
  • Evaluate the progression of TMJ.
  • Expose cysts and abnormalities.
  • Expose impacted teeth.
  • Expose jawbone fractures.
  • Plan treatment (full and partial dentures, braces and implants).
  • Reveal gum disease and cavities.

How are panoramic Images taken?

The panoramic images provides the dentist with an ear-to-ear two-dimensional view of both the upper and lower jaw.  The most common uses for panoramic images are to reveal the positioning of wisdom teeth and to check whether dental implants will affect the mandibular nerve (the nerve extending toward the lower lip).

The Panorex equipment consists of a rotating arm that holds the X-ray generator, and a moving film attachment that holds the pictures.  The head is positioned between these two devices.  The X-ray generator moves around the head taking pictures as orthogonally as possible.  The positioning of the head and body is what determines how sharp, clear and useful the image will be to the dentist.  The pictures are magnified by as much as 30% to ensure that even the minutest detail will be noted.

Panoramic images are an important diagnostic tool and are also valuable for planning future treatment.  They are safer than other types of X-rays because less radiation enters the body.

If you have questions or concerns about panoramic X-rays, please contact our practice.


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Gerald M. Schneider, DDS Nathan A. Loeffler, DDS
General & Family Dentistry
Creating Beautiful Smiles for all Ages

Visalia dentist, Dr. Gerald M. Schneider is a dental professional dedicated to general, family, and cosmetic dentistry with services including dental exams, dental makeovers, teeth whitening, veneers, crowns, x-rays, cleanings, and more. Please call our dentist in Visalia, CA to schedule your next appointment.


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