Health Care Imaging

Dental X-Ray OPG

About the Examination

OPG (Orthopantomogram) and Cephalogram are types of dental x-rays. An OPG produces a panoramic view of the jaw whilst a cephalogram is an x-ray of the facial structures. A lateral cephalogram produces a side profile image of the face, jaws and soft tissues to assess the relation of the teeth to the jaws, the jaws to the skull, and the relation of the soft tissues to the teeth and jaws.

What equipment is used during an OPG examination?

A specialised x-ray machine is used to produce the images. During an OPG examination, part of the equipment will rotate around the patient’s head while they remain in a still, standing or sitting position.

What conditions can be diagnosed by a dental x-ray?

OPGs are commonly used during a general dental check up, but can also be conducted to monitor and diagnose:

  • Teeth (general review)
  • Teeth (cavities)
  • Teeth impaction
  • Fractures
  • Dislocation
  • Infection
  • Tumours
  • Sinuses

Cephalograms can help predict mandibular growth in children by allowing accurate orthodontic measurements to be made and can help determine the changes that have occurred with treatment.

What are the risks and complications of a dental x-ray?

These examination use low dose x-rays, a form of radiation, to produce the required images. For dental x-rays, the dose is equivalent to about one day of background radiation.

What consequences are there if the suspected condition is undiagnosed or untreated?

Undiagnosed conditions can trigger complications and lead to additional disease if not treated. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

What are the benefits of a dental x-ray?

Dental x-rays are quick, painless, and expose the patient to a minimal amount of low-level radiation, whilst providing invaluable information to Dentists, Orthodontists and alike.

Are there alternatives to dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays are the most effective and commonly used method for examining the jaw and teeth but a dental CT scan can also be an option.

Preparation for a dental x-ray

There are no special requirements before a dental x-ray.

What should a patient tell the Radiographer before a dental x-ray?

You should tell the radiographer if you are pregnant or if you think you may be pregnant as there is a small risk that the radiation from an x-ray can harm a fetus.

You should also let the radiographer know if you will have difficulty standing for longer than a few minutes.

What should you bring to a dental x-ray?

Your doctor or specialist may ask you to bring any previous x-ray images or scans you have, as they can be used for comparison.

What to wear for a dental x-ray?

You can wear your normal clothes, but you will need to remove any jewellery, eyewear or other metallic accessories or implants around your upper body as these will show up on x-rays and may obscure important structures.

How long will a dental x-ray take?

Dental x-rays typically take less than 10 minutes to complete.

Dental X-ray Procedure Description

Before the x-ray you will be asked to remove any jewellery or eyewear. You will then be taken to an x-ray room, where a technician will give you instructions and conduct the procedure.

During OPG x-rays, you will be asked to stand or sit in front of the x-ray machine and rest your chin on a plastic rest. You will also need to bite down gently on a mouthpiece, to ensure your head remains still during the procedure. Part of the machine then rotates around your head as the images are being taken.

During a cephalogram procedure, you will be asked to stand or sit in front of the x-ray machine and small pegs will be placed in your ears to help align your head.

The scan typically takes less than 30 seconds to complete.

Post Dental X-ray Instructions

There is no recovery time. Patients will be able to return to normal activities and work immediately after the procedure.

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