What is a Panorex X-Ray?

Learn What a Panorex X-Ray is and What it is Used For

Dentist
Dentist. Sean Gallup / Staff / Getty Images

A panorex x-ray is a two-dimensional x-ray used in the dental field. It displays both jaws, the upper and lower, as well as the teeth, on the same film at the same time.

Uses of Panorex X-Rays

Panorex films have several uses. They are used regularly for orthodontic assessments, diagnosis of wisdom teeth impaction, diagnosis of advanced periodontal disease, assessment of the jaw joint, as well as for detecting signs of oral cancer.

Panorex films are used regularly for:

·         Orthodontic assessments

·         Diagnosis of wisdom teeth impaction

·         Diagnosis of advanced periodontal disease

·         Assess the TMJ, or jaw joint

·         Detecting oral cancer

Process of a Panorex X-Ray 

During the panorex x-ray, the patient is asked to bite down on a special tool that assists the operator in positioning the patients head in the correct position. The patient is asked to stay very still while the panorex machine travels around the outside of the patients head, for approximately 20 seconds. The image is either displayed digitally on a computer, or processed onto traditional x-ray film, to be used by the dentist.

Your dentist may recommend a panorex every five years, or whenever necessary for your specific situation.

Similarity to a Cephalometric X-Ray

Having a panorex x-ray taken is very similar to having a cephalometric x-ray taken.

Both x-rays focus on about the same area, and the process is similar.

A cephalometric x-ray, which is also sometimes referred to simply as a ceph, is a diagnostic radiograph used primarily for orthodontic treatment planning. A cephalometric x-ray is taken during the orthodontic records appointment. Cephalometric x-rays are also used by otolaryngologists -- doctors who specialize in the treatment of ear, nose and throat (ENT) disorders such as sleep apnea -- because these x-rays provide a view of the patient's airways.

The process of undergoing a ceohalometric x-ray is pretty straightforward, and similar to that of a panorex. Concentrating on the patient's profile -- or side view of the head -- the x-ray technician positions the patient according to specific criteria necessary when taking the x-ray. 

The exposure usually lasts around 10 seconds and the x-ray can be developed in approximately five or six minutes. Most dental offices are equipped with the equipment necessary to take a cephalometric x-ray, as well as a panorex. Once developed, the dentist typically uses tracing paper, and will "trace the ceph" in order to calculate how the patients jaw and surrounding bone will be affected by orthodontic treatment, along with providing the dentist with a look into the growth pattern of the jaw and teeth. This process can be used to determine potential courses of action and routes of treatment for dental issues. 

Also Known As:

Orthopantomogram

Pan

Panoramic x-ray

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