Ask a Dentist

Q: What’s a PAN?

dental assistant and patient, patient is getting a panoramic x-ray

A: A PAN is a panoramic x-ray. A panoramic x-ray takes a two-dimensional dental x-ray of your entire mouth in a single image, including your teeth, upper and lower jaws, surrounding bone structures and tissues. 

A panoramic x-ray isn’t used to detect cavities, we use different x-rays for that [link to previous blog post on x-rays]. Instead, it is used to give your dentist a comprehensive view of your entire mouth to detect any underlying problems. These problems might include:

  • Wisdom teeth issues
  • Bone abnormalities
  • Fractures
  • Cysts
  • Impacted teeth
  • Infections 
  • Tumours

PANs can also be used when planning treatments such as braces, implants and dentures. 

When getting a PAN, you’ll step into the machine and the camera will swing around your head, from one side to the other. To get the best picture possible, you’ll be asked to rest your forehead or chin on a section of the machine and bite down on a piece of plastic. The bite-blocker will help to keep your mouth open so a picture can be taken without your teeth going in front of each other. 

Unless there is an underlying problem that your dentist is tracking or it is part of the treatment plan, you’ll only need to get a PAN every few years. 

If you haven’t had a dental checkup in the last six months, or have any more questions or concerns about panoramic x-rays, book an appointment today at either of our Winnipeg locations: St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.