Basic Terminology of Dental Radiography

Basic Terminology of Dental Radiography
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  • 0:01 Dental Radiographs
  • 0:25 Extraoral Radiographs
  • 1:07 Intraoral Radiographs
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will go over the basic vocabulary of dental radiography: dental radiographs, extraoral radiographs, intraoral radiographs, periapical, and bitewing.

Dental Radiographs

Whether you've had cavities in your teeth or not, you probably had x-rays taken at the dentist's office to check for dental decay. And depending on what the dentist was trying to figure out, they were one of several different general kinds.

Here you're going to learn about the basic terminology behind major kinds of dental radiographs, or dental x-rays.

Extraoral Radiographs

If you've ever had dental radiographs taken without having to place any film in your mouth, then you had extraoral radiography performed. 'Extraoral' means 'outside of the mouth,' meaning the film was not placed inside of the mouth. 'Extra-' means 'outside of' and 'oral' means pertaining to the 'mouth.'

One extraoral radiography technique is appropriately called panoramic radiography, as it places a panoramic shot of your entire mouth on a single x-ray. If you've ever used your smartphone to take a panoramic shot, then you know what I'm talking about. The software in your smartphone spliced together a bunch of images into one larger image. This is how panoramic radiographs of the mouth work, as well.

Intraoral Radiographs

Now, if you've ever had film placed inside of your mouth prior to being zapped by x-rays, then you underwent intraoral radiography, where 'intraoral' means 'inside of the mouth.' 'Intra-' is a prefix that means 'inside of or within' something.

If you remember back to when this film was placed in your mouth, the camera was positioned right outside of your cheek as the dental assistant ran out of the room in a hurry to save themselves before you got zapped by radiation. That is your typical intraoral radiography.

Intraoral radiographs include periapical radiographs, where 'periapical' means 'surrounding the apex of the root of a tooth.' The apex is that pointed end of the tooth. 'Peri-' in 'periapical' means 'around or near.'

Such an x-ray can help show an abscess at the tip of the root. Look at the image on your screen. The apex of the tooth root is that rounded end near the bottom of the image. Can you tell how, especially near the apex of the root towards the right, the area of bone is darker than the surrounding bone? That, my friends, is a tooth root abscess.

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