- What is a pantomogram?
- What does a pantomogram show?
- How to prepare for the test?
- How often should you have a pantomogram?
- Do you need a referral for a pantomogram?
- Pantomogram or CT scan?
- How much does a pantomogram cost?
A pantomogram is a supplementary test performed by dentists to examine the inside structures of the oral cavity that are not visible during ordinary dental examination. What exactly are dental X-rays used for? Why are they such an important preventive and diagnostic tool for a dentist? Find out what a pantomogram involves and how it can help you take better care of your teeth.
A pantomogram, also known as a panoramic X-ray, is a two-dimensional X-ray of the jaw and the surrounding structures and tissues. An X-ray test involves X-raying a specific part of the body with a small dose of ionizing radiation to obtain an image of the interior of the structures being examined. The same principle applies to the panoramic X-ray, which produces a flat image of the curved structure (such as the face), showing the whole jaw in one image.
A pantomogram is an X-ray of the entire oral cavity, which presents an image of the upper and lower jaw, temporomandibular joints, all teeth and sinuses. Currently, the pantomogram is a basic screening test, which should be performed at least once every two years to provide additional information on the state of oral tissues invisible during a regular examination. An X-ray of the oral cavity and its surrounding area can help the dentist detect problems, such as bone fractures, cysts, damaged teeth, infections and tumours.
The panoramic image is also used for planning and inserting implants, dental prostheses and braces.
In children, the pantomogram is useful for monitoring tooth growth. The dentist can determine whether or not to intervene to prevent complications and mutual inter-growth of teeth.
The test does not require any special preparation. Before the procedure, you will be asked to remove any jewellery, glasses or metal objects that could interfere with the X-ray.
Next, you will be covered by a lead vest to protect the rest of the body from exposure to soft radiation from the scattering of the main beam directed at the X-rayed areas. It protects the organs that are sensitive to radiation. These days the test is performed using digital technology, which reduces the amount of radiation several-fold, compared to classic tests that use a photographic film.
Prior to undergoing a pantomogram, women should inform the dentist if they are pregnant. For safety reasons, these tests should not be performed on pregnant women to avoid exposing the foetus to radiation. If the X-ray is necessary, additional precautions should be taken.
How often a panoramic X-ray is performed depends on one’s dental health. The test should always be ordered by a specialist, either a dentist or oral surgeon. If the patient has a significant problem with cavities, and has had infections and complications in the past, the dentist may decide to do X-rays more often. If you are a new patient, the dentist may order a pantomogram to assess your dental health. Children may also require more frequent X-rays due to teeth and jaw development.
The frequency of pantomograms also depends on age, the risk of developing diseases, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. This should be decided on a patient by patient basis. If you believe that your dentist orders dental X-rays for you too often, ask them to explain why they feel this is necessary.
According to the recommendations of the European Union, to ensure safe use of ionizing radiation, these types of X-rays should be performed only with a referral. This requirement was created to prevent excessive use of radiation by patients. Without a referral, we can undergo a periapical X-ray of the teeth, because it involves a lower dose of radiation.
A CT scan is a three-dimensional test providing even more information about the examined structures and their topography. The examination shows successive layers of the oral cavity. It allows us to obtain a 3D image and assess every examined plane.
A panoramic X-ray image is a classic image of all teeth in the upper and lower jaw. It is a convenient way for dentists to see everything on a single X-ray, helping them see emerging or damaged teeth, or possible tumours.
The dentist chooses the right type of test based on the patient’s state of health. A CT scan is used in situations where a pantomogram is not sufficient – often in later stages of dental treatment.
The cost of a pantomogram varies depending on the location of the clinic. In larger cities, the test is usually more expensive, and the price may range between PLN 60-120. Some dental surgeries include the cost of the X-ray in the price of the procedure. A doctor who has a contract with the National Health Fund may issue a referral for the test covered by the National Health Fund.
The pantomogram allows the dentist to see what cannot be seen during a regular dental examination. The X-ray image can provide information that will help prevent the infection from developing further. If the test is performed regularly, treatment can be provided before bothersome symptoms appear. A dental pantomogram is therefore just as important as follow-up visits and daily oral care.
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- Livingstone, 2007, pp. 187–206. ISBN 978-0-443-10168-7.