Types of Radiographs Taken in Dentistry

When you visit your dentist there is often x-rays that are taken that assist the dentist with diagnosing any issues that may be hidden to the naked eye. Your dentist will use a mixture of intraoral (inside the mouth) and extraoral (outside the mouth) x-rays to aid them in catching any early signs of decay, issues with tooth eruption, as well as any infections that may be visible in the mouth. 

Are x-rays safe?

Yes! There are a number of precautions taken to ensure the safety of both the patient and dental staff while taking x-rays. Like all x-rays, the procedure is quick and painless. Our dentists take care to ensure that unless there is a specific reason for the x-ray, it is not taken. Routine x-rays such as bitewings and an OPG are done every two years to ensure there are no signs of decay or infections. 

So, what are the main x-rays that are taken?

As mentioned above there are two different categories for radiographs: intraoral and extraoral. Our dental team will use each x-ray to diagnose different issues.


Intraoral x-rays are used to show a detailed image of the teeth including the roots and surrounding bone structure.

Bitewings – Frequently used during your regular check-up, your dentist uses these x-rays to look for decay starting between the teeth that cannot be seen normally by the dentist. Bitewings show all teeth from the molars to the premolars on the upper and lower arch. 

Periapical – This x-ray is taken to show a detailed image of one or two teeth. This image shows the crown and root of the tooth, along with the bone supporting it. These are used in a situation where infection may be present or during a root canal treatment.


As the name suggests, extraoral x-rays are taken outside of the mouth. These show a broader view of the bone and teeth structure, allowing for a ‘big picture’ overview of a patient’s mouth.

Orthopantomography (OPG) – A panoramic x-ray taken to show an image of the entire jaw structure, this is used to view the development of tooth eruption in children and overall bone level.

Cephalometric – This x-ray is mainly used by the dentist for orthodontic planning. This x-ray shows the full side of the head. 

Cone-beam computer tomography (CBCT) – This type of scan is used to take three-dimensional images of the skull and jaw to assist with planning for implant procedures. 

If you have any questions about the types of x-rays you might receive during your next check-up, speak to your dentist when you book an appointment with Koo Wee Rup Dental Surgery!