One thing that sets good dental offices apart from great dental offices is the willingness to invest in the latest dental technology. Why? Because some
of the high-tech stuff available to dentists today has transformed patient care. Take, for example, the panoramic x-ray. It offers a number of important benefits to patients, making it a dental must-have.
That being said, some patients wonder why they need a panoramic x-ray, especially if it is not covered by insurance. The reality is that a panoramic x-ray is not only necessary to preserving your oral health, it could also save your life.
What Is a Panoramic X-Ray?
A panoramic x-ray is a two-dimensional x-ray that captures a picture of a patient’s entire mouth in just one image. The x-ray includes a view of all of the teeth, multiple bones of the head and neck, and other critical anatomical structures.
Unlike bitewing dental x-rays which show a close up of view of your teeth, this x-ray gives Dr. Sanyk a global view of a patient’s head and neck. This view allows for diagnosing more than just regular dental concerns, like cavities or gum disease. Rather, this view enables Dr. Sanyk to see other important issues that may be occurring in the surrounding tissue and jaw bones like oral cancer or other abnormalities, things that would not be visible in a bitewing x-ray.
Why Do I Need a Panoramic X-Ray?
There are a number of reasons we recommend a panoramic x-ray, including:
- Improved Care. A panoramic x-ray allows us view your head, neck, and jaw, and how they work together as a whole, which means we can more easily identify cysts, tumors, growths, jaw abnormalities, and cancer.
- Early Detection. Because a panoramic x-ray offers a comprehensive view of your entire mouth, we can spot dental issues at their onset. Early detection typically results in treatment that is minimally invasive and less expensive, as opposed to catching it later in its progression.
- Prolonged Life. Unfortunately, oral cancer has a high mortality rate. That’s because it often isn’t caught in its early stages. With a panoramic x-ray, we can improve the likelihood of identifying oral cancer early on when it’s easiest to treat.
- Discover Changes. Taking a panoramic x-ray every 3-5 years allows us to see changes that occur in your mouth over time. For instance, we can see if your teeth are shifting or if you’re experiencing bone abnormalities.
- Useful for Different Stages. With children, we use a panoramic x-ray to assess the need for orthodontic care. We use this type of x-ray on teens for that same reason, as well as to look at how their wisdom teeth are growing in. For adults, a panoramic x-ray is used to spot early warning signs of oral cancer, identify TMJ issues, and view cysts, growths, and abnormalities in greater detail.
What Can I Expect From a Panoramic X-Ray?
During a panoramic x-ray, we’ll position your head using chin, forehead, and side rests. We’ll also stabilize your bite to keep your mouth slightly open. Then, the x-ray machine will rotate in a semicircle around your head, allowing us to get a comprehensive picture of your entire mouth and jaw. The entire process is quick, easy and completely painless, lasting about 30 seconds.
In addition, a panoramic x-ray is only recommended every 3-5 years. Many insurance plans allow benefits for this procedure but for those that do not, the out of pocket cost is less impactful since it only occurs every few years.
The relatively low cost of the x-ray is nothing compared to what a patient would have to endure suffering from oral cancer or a tumor that was not caught because a panoramic x-ray was not completed at the recommended intervals. In fact, here is one of many stories on how early detection can save a life. It is better to be safe, than sorry!
At Smile Hilliard, every patient’s oral health is our number one priority. This is why we employ the best dental technology and recommend preventive care, like a panoramic x-ray, to keep our patients smiling and healthy for the long haul. Contact us today to learn more!