A panoramic image is designed to capture images of the entire oral and maxillofacial area, including the jaws, teeth, sinus, temporomandibular joints, and other anatomy of the area. It is not designed to see caries (cavities), but for other pathology your dentist is looking for:
- Cysts and lesions in the bones above and below your teeth
- Pathology in the sinuses
- Missing and broken/cracked teeth
- Location of third molars (wisdom teeth) to determine if extraction is recommended
- Calcification (blockage) of the carotid artery
You will stand in the panoramic machine, called a ProMax Digital pan made by Planmeca in Helsinki, Finland. You will bite on a small bitestick…nothing more goes in your mouth. While you stand there, the ProMax will circle your head and take an image like the one shown above. Even though it is a large machine, the radiation dose is relatively very low. A panoramic image is about the same radiation dose as the following daily activities:
- 3-4 hours of being outside here in Minneapolis/St. Paul (It would be only about 2 hours if we lived at the elevation of Denver)
- 2-3 hour airline flight
Your Point Family Doctor may also prescribe an extraoral bitewing on the ProMax. This is the equivalent image to what you normally get when you go to the dentist. The bitewing image is designed to look for two things:
- Caries (cavities) in-between the teeth
- Bone health in-between the teeth
When you get a bitewing on the ProMax, you will most likely not need the sensors put in your mouth, your Doctor will be able to see what is listed above for a bitewing, as well as health of your teeth around the roots and boney structure.
And the beauty of the Extraoral Bitewing on the ProMax is, that the radiation dose is only about 1-2 hours of outside time…about half that as a panoramic image, and only 1/4 that of a traditional bitewing with an intraoral sensor.
This ProMax is also a 3D Cone Beam imaging system when the doctor needs that additional diagnostic information. You can read more about that imaging technique here.