Panoramic x-rays, like Mercator map projections that flatten the curvature of the earth, provide dentists with a broad view of the teeth on a single film. Panoramic x-rays, however, do not show tooth decay or gum disease.
Some dentists have historically used panoramic x-rays regularly in their initial evaluation of patients. Increasing concern about exposure to radiation, though, has caused the profession to re-evaluate. Many professionals argue that what’s know as a "full-mouth series" of small periapical x-rays provides enough information to enable family dentists to care for the average patient.
Panoramic x-rays, though, are still widely used in restorative dentistry. Thus patients undergoing extensive crown and bridgework, as well as those getting dental implants placed can expect their dentist and specialist to make liberal use of this diagnostic and treatment tool.
Panoramic x-rays are crucial because they show TMJ, the location of the mandibular nerve (for extraction of lower third molars) and the sinuses.
Last updated: 12-May-05