Periodic and comprehensive oral evaluations at your dental office frequently employ the use of radiographs (X-rays), to help visualize your teeth and bones in ways not possible via the naked eye. Accidentally discovered on November 8, 1895 by German physics professor Wilhelm Röntgen, X-rays, have been a staple of modern medicine ever since.
Since that time, many improvements to the delivery of X-ray radiation have also been accomplished, and today, exposure has been minimized dramatically. In fact, digital X-rays, which deliver even less radiation than traditional film-based X-rays, have quickly become commonplace in dental offices throughout the world.
It is worth noting that with this dental procedure code, the word “film” can be used interchangeably to represent both digital and traditional film-based X-rays, since the service code does not discriminate between either process.
In this procedure, X-rays are taken of the posterior teeth (those in the rear of the mouth), and four films are taken in total. These X-rays are called “bitewing” because the paper or plastic tab attached to the film that you bite down on allows the film or digital sensor to hover between your bite in a similar fashion to an airplane wing. These tabs which surround both traditional film or a digital sensor are connected to the center of these objects, and referred to as bite-wing “loops.”
A bitewing view is taken to allow your dentist to detect decay and hairline fracture in the crowns of your molars, as well as any potential aveolar bone loss, which may exist. The aveolar is the region of bone in the jaw that holds the teeth intact. Four films are generally required to obtain an adequate view, and these films capture images of the teeth from the molar furthest back in your mouth, forward to the canine teeth. Should deeper views be deemed necessary that capture more of the root in addition to the crown, the bitewing loops can be turned 180° from their typical position so they are longer from north to south, than east to west, in order to capture more of the aveolar and overall jawbone structure. Other options include periapical X-rays, which captures a view of the entire tooth, or a panoramic X-ray, which captures a 360° view of the entire skull.
To look up and find more cdt dental codes from the American Dental Association, please visit our complete Dental Procedure Code Library.