What is orthopantomography or OPG?
Pantomography is a form of imaging used for obtaining radiographs of a curved surface, by rotation of the body and film during exposure from an x-radiation source. Orthopantomography (OPG), also known as an OPG X-ray or dental x-ray, is an X-ray scan that gives a panoramic or wide view of the lower face. It captures all the teeth, gums and bones on both upper and lower jaws on a single image, including those that may not have erupted yet, such as wisdom teeth. It also captures the jawbone and the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the rest of the skull.
Why is an OPG or Dental X-ray done?
Dental X-rays (radiographs) are images of your teeth that your dentist uses to evaluate the overall oral health or identify specific problems, like cavities, tooth decay, and impacted teeth. OPG is used by dentists to view all their patient’s teeth and including their number, position, and growth, including those that have not yet erupted. An OPG X-ray might be done to plan orthodontic treatment, to detect the presence or assess the development of wisdom teeth, to examine the jawbone, or for a general overview of the patient’s dental health.
How is an OPG or Dental X-ray done?
An OPG or dental X-ray creates images of the mouth or jaw – bones, teeth and gums using low-level X-radiation.
Dental X-Ray consists of a horizontal rotating arm which holds an X-ray source and a moving film/ cassette or detector at opposed end. The patient’s head is positioned firmly between the X-ray generator and the film/detector. This arm rotates around the patient’s head and captures several images to construct the panoramic image of the lower part of the head.
The patient is asked to rest their mouth on a chin-rest and bite softly on a sterile mouthpiece to ensure the head and mouth is steady while the images are taken.
The procedure is typically performed in less than 20 seconds.
How safe is OPG?
OPG X-Ray uses very low radiation dosages as compared to other forms of investigations – generally about 7-27 µSv. Compare this with other investigations:
Safety Precautions while doing OPG X-Ray
As with all X-rays, any jewellery, glasses, or other metal objects must be removed before the scan, so that they do not affect the images.
For additional safety, the patient may be asked to wear thyroid collar and lead apron to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to other parts of the body closer to the mouth.
Is AERB approval needed for OPG X-Ray?
Yes, even though the radiation exposure in case of OPG X-Ray is extremely low, all medical equipment using x-radiation must have AERB licensing to operate. This is essential for both the patients as well as operating personnel.
Digital vs Analog Dental X-Rays
Like other X-Ray based medical equipment, Dental X-ray technology is also moving away from traditional film technology to digital X-ray technology, using electronic sensors and computers to create images. Digital X-rays provide for real-time review of the scans without need to wait for the film to be developed. They also have better exposure latitude. This means they are more efficient at getting high-quality images, reducing the number of retakes required, and reducing the patient’s exposure to radiation. X-rays can also be reprinted when necessary. Other significant advantages include, the ability to store, enhance images, email or share with others and easier and reliable medical records handling.
Read more about difference between conventional and digital X-Rays. The latest advancements have also seen the addition on CBCT (Cone Beam CT) or Cone Beam 3D Technology to standard digital panoramic devices.
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