There are four types of xrays that most dentists take and use:
1. Full Mouth Series ("FMX"): The full mouth series of xrays are designed to take detailed images of each tooth and the surrounding structures. We usually prescribe them every 3-5 years and are used to diagnose most dental conditions like gum disease, cavities, dental abscesses, and pathological lesions.
FMX xrays consist of a mixture of Bitewing and Periapical xrays.
2. Bitewing xrays ("Bites"): These are typically taken once a year and are used to screen for cavities. Bitwing xrays are not typically used on front teeth and are not used to diagnose gum disease.
3. Periapical xrays ("PAs"); PAs show the whole length of the tooth and, like Full Month Series xrays, are used to take detailed images of a single tooth, as well as the surrounding teeth and supporting structures. They are usually prescribed in situations where the focus in on a single tooth- as when a patients comes in with pain.
4. Panoramic Xrays ("Panorex", "Pans"): These are taken for an overview of the oral cavity (mouth), as well as the entire maxillofacial area- which includes the midface, upper and lower jaws and surrounding areas. They are used more routinely by Oral Surgeons and Orthodontists during treatment planning, but have considerable less diagnostic value to the General Dentist who need more detail.