Everything You Need to Know About Dental X-Rays dentist washington heights ny

A Brief History of the X-Ray (including First Use of dental X-Rays)

Dental X-Rays are long considered one of the best tools in the dental industry and are vital to maintaining your oral health. X-Ray machines have clearly changed a lot throughout the years. However, what many people don’t realize is exactly how old the x-ray machine is. The first X-Ray was taken by Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen back in 1895. He took this x-ray of his wife’s hand by using an enclosed discharge tube of cathode ray sealed in a black carton so that no lights would reach the tube. While X-Rays would rapidly advance, it is the fact that we owe Rontgen for the development of this amazing technology that has assisted many patients since it was invented over 125 years ago.

X-Rays first came on to the scene in 1896 when it was invented by Dr. Otto Walkhoff, and by 1897 France had their first x-ray equipment as well. X-Ray equipment has developed a great deal since the late 1890s. Today we have X-Ray equipment that can take X-Rays while using up to 80% less radiation while still getting a quality picture that is needed to render proper medical and dental care to patients.

Why Do I Need Dental X-Rays? What Types of X-Rays Will I Get at the Dentist?

Dental X-Rays are used for a variety of different purposes including allowing the dentist to get a picture of the full mouth to better evaluate one’s oral health and study the roots of the teeth and the bone structure supporting them. X-Rays ensure total oral health and catch any problems that may begin early before they cause irreversible damage to the rest of the mouth’s structure.

Some of the common X-Rays in the dental field include the following:

The Full Mouth Series (FMS)

A Full Mouth Series (FMS) of X-Rays consists of 4 bite-wing shots that will allow the dentist to see 14 peripheral films which study the entirety of your mouth’s structure and allows the dentist to see both the roots of the teeth and the supporting bone structure around the teeth. These X-Rays should be taken every year once the person reaches age 20 and retaken during one of their oral examinations every 3 to 5 years thereafter.

The Bite-Wing X-Rays

Bite-wing X-rays allow the dentist to see both the top and bottom teeth clearly and allows them to document the internal structures of both the gums and teeth to ensure the optimal oral health of the patient. Bite-Wing X-Rays usually take 2 pictures for those children under 12 and 4 for older children, teens, and adults. These x-rays are supplemented by other periapical films that are associated with full dental X-Rays when the patient reaches age 20.

The Panorex & Panoramic X-Rays

These X-Rays show the bone structure of the entire facial area surrounding the mouth. One large X-Ray shows all of the mandible bones as well as the sinuses and the surrounding facial structures of the area around the mouth. These X-Rays are used to spot any sorts of tumors or cysts that may grow in the area and affect the oral health of the patient. These X-Rays are some of the quickest and easiest to take and are key tools in both medical and oral healthcare.

Child’s Panoramic X-Rays

Children begin to get panoramic X-Rays designed for their age and size at around 6 or 7 years old. These are used to ensure that the molar teeth for both 6 and 12-year olds are formed and that they are coming in correctly. You can also see the lower central adult incisors as they are developing as well.

What Are the Risks Involved with X-Rays?

Newer technology allows X-Rays to be taken with a lot less exposure to radiation than what was used before. About 80% less radiation is used for most X-Rays today versus the ones that were taken even a couple of decades ago. The risks of exposure to radiation have been minimized and having the various X-Rays is less of a risk than ever before. The X-Rays can help catch health problems before they become real problems and the risks of leaving certain medical issues undetected.


At Esthetix Dental Spa we strongly believe that Dental X-Rays can help detect problems before they become more severe and cause long-term oral health complications. The newer X-Rays only give a fraction of the radiation that the older ones did and are safer than ever before. We do encourage you to notify your dentist if you are you are pregnant before your examination so that appropriate precautions can be taken to ensure the safety of both you and your child.

For further assistance with scheduling an appointment to get your Dental X-Rays completed, please feel free to contact us at Esthetix Dental Spa for further assistance. We are always here and happy to help.