Oral Radiology – Common Types of Intraoral Radiographs


What is radiography? Radiography is defined as the technique of examining the body by directing X-rays through it to produce various radiographic images on a photographic film or a fluoroscope. Radiography has been vastly used in medical as well as dental health industries for diagnostic purpose.

In this article, we would like to discuss on the common types of radiographs that are being used in the practise of dentistry. In dental practise, radiographic techniques are broadly classified into 2 types, namely Intra-Oral Radiography and Extra-oral Radiography. The most common types of Intra-Oral Radiographs include Intra-Oral Periapical Radiograph (IOPA Radiograph), Bitewing Radiograph as well as Occlusal Radiograph. On the other hand, the most common type of Extra-Oral Radiograph consists of Orthopantomogram (OPG).

In this context, we would like to discuss the various types of Intra-Oral Radiographs in detailed. Meanwhile, Extra-Oral Radography will be discussed in detailed in the next article.

Intra-Oral Periapical Radiograph (IOPA Radiograph)

Intra-Oral Periapical Radiograph, also known as IOPA Radiograph, is most commonly used radiograph in the practise of dentistry. IOPA Radiographs are commonly used to detect any abnormalities of the tooth’s root structure & the surrounding bone structure.

oral radiologyIOPA Radiographs are indicated for the assessment of tooth decay (dental caries), periodontal condition, endodontic treatment, dental implant, tooth morphology, root morphology, trauma, cysts, foreign body, tooth anomalies, supernumerary teeth, relationship of impacted teeth, dental diseases, preoperative assessment as well as postoperative assessment.

Bitewing Radiograph

Bitewing Radiography was introduced by Howard Raper in 1924. Bitewing Radiographs could be categorised into 3 types of projections, namely anterior projection (for incisor & canine teeth), premolar projection (for premolar teeth) and molar projection (for molar teeth).

oral radiologyBitewing Radiographs are indicated for the detection of proximal dental caries, monitoring the progression of tooth decay, detection of early periodontal diseases, detection of dental calculus on proximal surfaces of teeth, detection of recurrent caries below dental restorations (fillings), evaluation of the condition of alveolar bone crest, and the conduction of large radiographic surveys.

Occlusal Radiograph

Occlusal radiograph is defined as an intra-oral radiograph that is being placed with the X-ray film in between the occluded teeth. Occlusal radiograph may be taken to show the upper/ lower anterior/posterior teeth.

oral radiologyOcclusal radiography is indicated when dental surgeons need to locate the retained roots of the extracted teeth, locate supernumerary teeth, locate impacted teeth, locate unerupted teeth, locate foreign bodies in the jaw, locate salivary stones, locate cysts, locate tumours, evaluate the boundaries of the maxillary sinus, evaluate jaw fractures, examine the conditions of cleft lip/palate and to measure the changes in the size/shape of the jaw bones.

In a nutshell, the advancements in technology have made dental practise more comfortable, effective and time saving for the patients. Radiography does play a very essential role in the practise of dentistry by helping in the diagnosis, evaluation, management, and treatment planning of various dental conditions/diseases.


Tommy Wong

by Tommy Wong

A full-time Dental Student passionate to make a dent in the World of Dentistry. All through my dentistry journey, I have realised that there is still a lack of Oral Health Education to the public globally. This leads to high prevalence of Oral Diseases among the human population. With this mission, we have established GlobalDentalPro – Your Oral Health Educator with the mission to promote Oral Health globally to enable people to increase control over, and to improve their Oral Health & thus General Health. View all articles by Tommy Wong.


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