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 in this dental procedure code, the word film is used interchangeably to represent both digital and traditional film-based X-rays, since the service code does not discriminate between either process.
This dental procedure code, refers to a type of X-ray known as periapical. This term is used because these X-rays capture the entire tooth all the way down to the tissues at the tip of the tooth root – an area referred to as the periapical area. During a comprehensive oral examination, you're likely to have 16 of this type of X-ray, along with four bite-wing X-rays.
From a procedure standpoint, the main difference between the periapical and bite-wing X-ray lies in the image being taken (the whole tooth), and the fact that when the image is being taken, X-ray beam is directed at an angle downward to capture the whole tooth as opposed to horizontally as in the case of a bite-wing X-ray.
Outside of a comprehensive examination, periapical images are used if you are suffering from acute pain that has yet to be diagnosed, or in cases where prior surgery or other dental work needs to be re-evaluated for success or failure. Yet another X-ray option is 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.