Larger panoramic X-rays of the skull, in addition to diagnosing the teeth and oral cavity diseases, can prove to be an effective means of detecting the cardiovascular abnormalities and even the cancers. Such X-rays are taken in the standing up position while the X-ray machine pans the entire jaw.
The significance of dental X-ray in picking up gum abnormalities is a known fact. Deep cavities, tooth and gum infections and abscesses can be easily identified. Panoramic X-rays can also help in detection of temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) defects, impacted teeth, oral cysts, sinus diseases and traumatic injuries of face or teeth. It can lead to the timely identification of periodontal diseases.
The value of panoramic X-ray lies in the fact that it covers a wider area as compared to the normal X-ray. The recently found applications include discovery of any calcifications within the carotid arteries which may give rise to stroke. Any calcified plaques may also be identified which put a person at an increased risk for cardiovascular disorders. The pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth like erythroplakia can also be detected.
These X-rays are a part of orthodontic protocol and are usually done for people who are being treated with dental braces or implants and for determining the position of the wisdom tooth. Although an important part of the dental examination, panoramic X-rays are not routinely done. Panoramic X-rays are recommended to be done every 5 to 6 years so that any abnormality can be identified and treated promptly.