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What is an OPG in dentistry?

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An orthopantomogram (OPG), or panoramic radiograph, is a specialized X-ray that displays the entire mouth, jaw, teeth and gums in one image, according to RadiologyInfo.org. Because the OPG X-ray provides a panoramic view of these areas on a single slide or image, it is set apart from the smaller X-ray images of single or groups of teeth typically used in most dental offices.

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An OPG image may be able to reveal issues with the temporomandibular joint that may not otherwise be detected with a regular tooth X-ray, according to RadiologyInfo.org. It also provides a more in-depth look at teeth that may not have grown above the gums, such as impacted wisdom teeth, or other jaw bone issues. Additionally, it can reveal issues related to advanced periodontal disease, oral cysts, tumors, oral cancer and sinusitis.

As with any X-ray safety procedure, patients will be asked to remove jewelry or other metal objects and will be required to wear a lead apron. The patient's head will be secured, as it is imperative that the mouth and head remain still during the procedure. A bite blocker is also often used. Getting an OPG X-ray taken is a painless procedure that is both quick and easy, and it may even be more tolerable to patients who suffer from a gag reflex.

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