Taking x-rays on patients with mandibular tori

Nov. 30, 2022
Taking radiographs can be tricky, no matter who the patient is—and for patients with tori, it can be downright painful. These tips can help you get a good x-ray while minimizing patient discomfort.

Taking radiographs can be tricky, no matter who the patient is. I always tell my students that radiology is an art, not a science. It takes practice, patience, love, and a bit of luck to get the perfect radiograph each time, which can definitely be a bit disheartening when you’re new to the game.

Having a patient with sensitivity due to mandibular or maxillary tori can make it even trickier. But even with a more challenging patient, you can do it! They may not all be textbook perfect, but with some tips and tricks, you should be able to get a diagnostic radiograph.

What are tori?

Tori is extra bone that occurs in your patient’s mouth. It can range in size, from barely noticeable to something large and uncomfortable. Most patients don’t know they even have this extra bone since it is such a daily norm for them to work around. This extra bone can be found both on the maxillary or on the mandibular arch, usually at the middle of the palate on the top or the lingual in the canine/premolar area. This extra bone growth is regularly bilateral and symmetrical on the bottom. Usually, these areas of bone don’t cause any pain or sensitivity to the patient. However, they can be very sensitive to the radiograph sensor, especially if pressure is directly placed with the edges of the plastic.

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How to avoid tori while taking a radiograph

First and foremost, check intraorally before taking radiographs to see if a patient has any tori. It’s easy to make radiographs be one of the first intraoral procedures we perform at an appointment, and we jump in quickly since our appointment time starts ticking the second the patient sits down. But take a second before placing the sensor to either ask the patient if they have these extra bony growths (they sometimes know from previous conversations with their dental professionals) or quickly look and feel the palate and floor of the mouth for them. With this extra second, you can avoid a painful sensor placement even before taking your first radiograph.

What if the x-ray isn’t perfect?

That’s OK! It may take one or two images to get all the necessary information. We know the goal is always to get everything in one image, but that’s usually only possible on patients with perfect anatomy. And who has that?

To learn a few more tricks to get the best possible radiograph, watch the video.

Hygiene Edge was created by three dental hygiene educators who love both dentistry and education. With over 40 years of experience both in the education space and in the dental field, Melia Lewis, Jessica Atkinson, and Shelley Brown love sharing their knowledge through helpful, short videos online, speaking, and working with amazing companies. You can find more information at Hygiene Edge, on YouTube (www.youtube.com/hygieneedge), and Instagram (@hygieneedge). Have a question or a tricky area? Let us know! We’d love to help.