X-rays: The Tooth Photos

Dental x-rays are vital to regularly monitor the oral growth and development of your child. The common misconception is that dental x-rays only detect cavities or are a way for dental offices to upcharge you for a service that isn’t fully necessary. Allow us to debunk this myth.

There are four kinds of x-rays that pediatric dentists will generally take: bitewings, panoramic, occlusal, and periapical. Each of these provide the dentist with different views of your child’s mouth, allowing them to accurately diagnose any areas of concern and to provide treatment before the situation worsens.


Bitewing X-Rays are used to look for cavities that have formed
between teeth such as the molars and premolars that are hard to view with the naked eye.
Panoramic X-Rays are full mouth x-rays that are used to monitor the overall development of teeth, visualize emerging teeth, gauge if orthodontics is needed, view any impacted teeth, or detect anomalies.
Occlusal X-Rays show the entire arch of either the top or bottom jaw. This photo is used to view permanent teeth that are forming/erupting below the gum line.
Periapical X-Rays are hyper-focused on one or two teeth and showcase the whole tooth from crown to root to check for problems with the root of the tooth or jawbone.

While you may only have x-rays taken every so often when you visit the dentist, your child will need them taken more often as their mouths grow and change rapidly. Additionally, if your child has experienced trauma to the oral region, the pediatric dentist will want to take x-rays immediately to ensure that there is not more extensive damage below the gum line or out of plain eyesight.

X-rays Are Taken to Allow Dr. Leach to…

• Locate cavities formed between and on teeth
• Follow up on any previous endodontic treatments
• Evaluate injuries to teeth following trauma
• Monitor how many teeth have erupted
• Observe if there is any negative impact due to unerupted teeth
• Identify any impacted teeth
• Detect any problems with spacing in the jaw
• View problems with the roots of a tooth or other bone-related tooth problems
• Use as a ‘map’ if your child needs a more advanced procedure such as an extraction

How Safe Are Dental X-rays?

Dr. Leach invests in the best equipment for the treatment of his patients which means x-ray machines with low radiation. At Dr. Leach’s office, we utilize digital x-rays which not only provide a higher resolution ‘photo’ but also reduce the amount of radiation by over 90%!

In fact, you get more radiation from staying in the sun for three hours than by getting an x-ray done at our office. By using digital x-rays, our team can instantly view the photos of your child’s teeth, be able to share those with you, and talk you through what can be observed.

How Are the X-rays Taken?

You might be wondering how x-rays are taken on younger children or what happens if they are too uncooperative. Each pediatric office will have a different approach to taking x-rays. At Dr. Leach’s office, we have the children sit in one of our office chairs and drape our smiley face lead vest over their chest. From there, our hygiene assistant or dental assistant will have your child bite down on a small sensor that has the x-ray on it and hold still for a couple of seconds. It’s that easy!

If a child is not wanting to cooperate, our team will attempt multiple times to get the x-ray taken, but at the end of the day, if it is not 100% necessary, we will try again at the next appointment.