What Are the Different Types of Dental X-Ray Machine?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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An x-ray machine is commonly used piece of equipment in a dental office. The purpose of these machines is to see things that are not visible by visual examination of the mouth alone. Dentists can use the images produced to see the teeth as well as the bones and soft tissues around them. Finding cavities, examining teeth roots, viewing tooth development, and checking the underlying bone health are all functions performed by various dental X-ray machines.

Digital radiographs are becoming a popular form of dental x-ray machines. They use an electronic pad or sensor instead of a piece of x-ray film. This kind of dental x-ray machine transmits images directly to a computer. The images can be stored, printed, and compared using software to decide whether any changes have occurred over time. A technician can view two different images or multiple images on a single screen view. Digital systems even make it possible to catch dental problems sooner than with other methods and types of dental x-ray machine.

If a digital radiograph is not available, there are three different types of dental x-ray machines that are used. Extraoral imaging takes pictures from outside the mouth, intraoral imaging involves taking pictures from within the oral structure, and panoramic x-rays involve a machine that takes pictures around the entire head. These machines are used for different purposes.


Extraoral radiography is good for checking impacted teeth, gathering information on oral growth and development, seeing how the teeth are situated in relation to the jaws, and viewing facial bones. The images focus more on the jaw or skull. These images are not always detailed enough to detect cavities.

Intraoral radiography is the most common type of dental x-ray, and includes bite-wing x-rays, in which the film is contained in a wing-shaped device. Periapical x-rays are very similar, but images the entire length of just one or two teeth. For an assessment of tooth development and placement, an occlusional x-ray is used to examine all teeth on either the top or bottom jaws.

A panoramic dental x-ray machine is a large machine that features an emitter that circles behind the head. A film moves along the opposite side in front of the face. The result is a picture of every tooth on both jaws, providing a complete assessment of tooth structure and configuration in one image.


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