What Type of X-Rays Does a Dentist in Tucson Rely On for Diagnosis?

Dentist Tucson, AZ

Dental X-rays serve as a valuable diagnostic tool for your dentist in Tucson. While a visual examination can tell a dentist a lot about the current condition of a patient's mouth, it cannot reveal everything. X-rays, however, can show budding dental issues and provide a dentist with the information necessary to intervene before the problem becomes more serious.

Types of X-rays a dentist may use for diagnostic purposes

Dental X-rays fall into one of two categories: intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral X-rays utilize film that goes inside the mouth, while extraoral X-rays utilize film outside the mouth.

Intraoral X-rays

Intraoral X-rays are the most common type dental professionals use. There are three different types, each of which shows various aspects of the teeth and jaw.

Bite-wing X-rays are one of the most helpful diagnostic tools, hence the reason most patients are familiar with them. Bite-wings show all the details of a set of teeth in one area of the mouth, from the supporting bone to the exposed surface. These X-rays can reveal changes in the thickness of the supporting bone caused by gum disease, decay on and between the teeth and any breakdowns in existing caps or fillings. Bite-wings can also tell a dentist about what size crown a patient may need. 

Occlusal X-rays do not provide as much detail as bite-wings, but they are useful in helping a dentist determine the arch of the upper or lower set of teeth. Many pediatric dentists use these X-rays to track the development of a child's teeth.

Dentists may use periapical X-rays to detect changes in the root and surrounding bone structures. These tools help a dentist visualize the entire tooth, from the root to the crown and everything in between.  

Extraoral X-rays

A dentist in Tucson may use extraoral X-rays to detect issues within the jaw or bone structure, and not necessarily within the teeth themselves. There are several types on which a dentist may rely.

Dentists may use panoramic X-rays to diagnose tumors, spot impacted teeth and identify where new teeth will emerge. These X-rays give dentists a complete picture of the entire mouth in one image.

Dental computed tomography provides 3D imagery of the interior structures of the mouth. A dentist may use these X-rays to detect problems such as fractures, cysts or tumors.

Cone beam CT also provides 3D imagery of dental structures. However, it delves deeper than dental CT and gives glimpses of the nerves, soft tissue and bone that make up the jaw.  A dental professional may use cone beam CT to guide implant placement, identify issues in the roots or gums or assess tumors and cysts.

With digital imaging, a dentist can take the picture and send it directly to a computer for assessment. Images can be enhanced and enlarged and electronically sent to other dental professionals for a second opinion.


Dental X-rays are powerful diagnostic tools. If you are concerned about safety or just want to learn more, discuss the various types of X-rays with a dentist in Tucson today.

Request an appointment here: https://www.simplysmilesdentist.com or call Simply Smiles Dentistry at (520) 368-3351 for an appointment in our Tucson office.

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