Digital radiography is a form of X-ray imaging, where digital dental X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. Advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images. Also, less radiation can be used to produce an image of similar contrast to conventional radiography.
Instead of X-ray film, digital dental X-ray radiography uses a digital image capture device, which means the results are in the dentist’s hands almost immediately, whereas in the past it was necessary to wait for film to be processed.
Radiological examinations in dentistry can be divided into two types – intraoral, where the sensor is placed in the mouth (the purpose being to focus on a small region) and extraoral where the sensor is placed outside the mouth aiming to visualise the entire oral maxillofacial region. An OPG X-ray is a panoramic or wide view X-ray of the lower face, which displays all the teeth of the upper and lower jaw on a single film.
One of the benefits of an OPG is that it demonstrates the number, position and growth of all the teeth including those that have not yet surfaced or erupted. It may also reveal problems with the jawbone and the joint which connects the jawbone to the head, called the Temporomandibular joint or TMJ. Your dentist may want to see an OPG for the planning of orthodontic treatment, for assessment of wisdom teeth or for a general overview of the teeth and the bone which supports your teeth.
Principal advantages of panoramic images are:
- Broad coverage of facial bones and teeth
- Low patient radiation dose
- Convenience of examination for the patient (films need not be placed inside the mouth)
- Ability to be used in patients who cannot open the mouth or where the opening is restricted
- Short time required for making the image