What is an OPG X-ray?

An OPG (Orthopantomagram) is a panoramic scanning dental X-ray of the upper and lower jaw. It is also sometimes called by the proprietary name Orthopantomagraph or Panorex. It shows a flattened two-dimensional view of a half-circle from ear to ear. Panoramic x-rays allow images of multiple angles to be taken to make up the composite panoramic image, where the maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw) are in the viewed area. The structures that are outside the viewed area are blurred. At some stage in your dental treatment, your dentist will likely take an OPG.

An OPG also demonstrates the number, position and growth of all the teeth including those that have not yet surfaced or erupted through the gum. It is different from the small close up x-rays dentists take of individual teeth. It shows less fine detail, but a much broader area of view. This can be particularly useful to check hard to see areas like wisdom teeth, or the development of a child’s jaw and teeth. It is also often used to check your jaw joint, the TMJ (temperomandibular joint), sometimes called the CMA (cranio-mandibular articulation), especially if you grind your teeth.

OPG x-ray

The principal advantage of panoramic images/OPGs:

  • Broad coverage of facial bones and teeth including the TMJ (temperomandibular joint)
  • Low patient radiation dose
  • Convenience of examination for the patient
  • Ability to be used in patients who are restricted in opening their mouth
  • Short time required for producing the image
  • Useful visual aid in patient education and case presentation

Your dentist will ask you to remove any jewellery or metallic items from around the head and neck area as it can interfere with the image, blocking the x-ray. The OPG usually takes about 3 mins to complete, only 20 seconds of this are the image being taken.

Where can I get an OPG taken?

Darlinghurst Dental has an OPG machine on site for your convenience and the images are produced digitally and stored in your file with all your other x-rays. The image is produced within seconds of the OPG being taken and your dentist will review it with you at the end of the appointment. This can be as part of a dental check up, or seperate appointment. An OPG is just one diagnostic tool your dentist will use to ensure you maintain and prevent unnecessary dental issues.