A panoramic x-ray, also known as OPG is used in to capture a wide view of the upper and lower jaw(s).

Do you suffer from toothaches, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain, and other jaw problems? Our National Dental Care practices use a screening x-ray called an orthopantomograph (OPG) to quickly identify the source of these issues and help treat them as quickly as possible.

What is an OPG?

An orthopantomograph is a panoramic x-ray used in our dental practices to capture a wide view of the upper and lower jaw. They provide a single, two-dimensional, half-circle view of the lower face, teeth, and jaws from ear to ear.

An OPG takes multiple, composite panoramic images, which our dentists use to identify dental and structural problems in the maxilla, mandible, and teeth. This screening is a convenient, affordable, and rapid way to evaluate the anatomy of your jaw. These x-rays display all teeth in the upper and lower jaw, and also the position and growth of teeth, including those that haven't surfaced or erupted. These scans can also show the sinuses located above the upper molars.

OPG screenings differ from the traditional, close up x-rays that dentists take of individual teeth. An OPG can reveal problems with the jawbone and the TMJ which connects the jawbone to the head.

When is an Orthopantomograph used?

OPGs are used to plan orthodontic treatments, implant surgeries, wisdom teeth removal, and root canals. A dentist may request an OPG to help evaluate the following situations:

  • Finding impacted wisdom teeth diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Tracking periodontal bone loss and periapical involvement
  • Identifying the location of missing or unerupted teeth
  • Determining the placement of dental implants
  • Developing an orthodontic assessment, pre and post-operative
  • Diagnosing osteosarcoma, ameloblastoma, renal osteodystrophy
  • Identifying carcinomas of the jaws
  • Discovering temporomandibular joint dysfunctions and ankyloses
  • Locating salivary stones
  • Planning of orthodontic treatment for assessment of wisdom teeth or for a general overview of the teeth and the bone which supports it

Advantages of an Orthopantomograph

Some reasons why our dentists prefer to use an OPG include the following:

  • They can use OPGs in patients who cannot open their mouths or restricted opening due to diseases like trismus
  • These machines can photograph broad anatomical regions of the facial bone and teeth
  • Digital OPG screenings use a low radiation dose
  • They provide convenient examinations for the patients (films don't need to be placed inside their mouths)
  • These tests are convenient, fast, and easy. The entire procedure takes less than 14 seconds of exposure time
  • There is no overlapping of facial bones
  • The OPG screening leaves no radiation in a patient's body after the process
  • Short time required for making the image
  • Easy to store compared to the large set of intraoral x-rays that are dentists usually use

An overview of the OPG procedure

Similarly to other x-ray imaging, you will be required to remove any jewellery, eyeglasses, hairpins, and other metal objects you are wearing. These items will interfere with the x-ray screening and cause distortions on the final image.

Our technician will have you sit or stand next to the OPG machine where you will need to rest your face on a small shelf, then bite down on a plastic spatula, so that a photograph your teeth can be taken.

An x-ray tube and sensor plate will rotate briefly around your head, taking two-dimensional images of your teeth, bones, and jaw joints. Although the OPG only captures limited parts of your anatomy at any one time, it will give a composite picture of your teeth and maxilla facial structure. In most cases, the entire OPG process will take less than one minute.

To find you more about how an OPG will be used during your treatment, or if it needed for your circumstances, please visit your local National Dental Care / DB Dental practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most patients will not experience any side effects after an OPG. OPGs, like most medical imaging tools, use ionising radiation to photograph structures in the upper and lower jaw. Patients will only be directly exposed to a small amount of radiation when the OPG takes place. Note: All radiography should be avoided during pregnancy, unless absolutely necessary. Please consult your dentist if you have any questions about potential side effects or risks associated with this procedure to your personal circumstances.
In most, if not all cases, your OPG results are available immediately as they are digital, and are usually with your dentist by the time they walk you back into the surgery. OPG screenings provide our dentists with a complete picture of your upper and lower jaw, helping them develop a comprehensive treatment plan for you.

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