The KaVo X-Ray Positioning Guide

X-Ray Positioning Guidetips on how to take digital x-rays

Dental professionals recognize the importance of taking an accurate x-ray image. It is essential that operators truly learn how to take a dental x ray, and understand the intricacies involved. This x-ray positioning guide will provide tips to help both new and experienced operators learn how to take digital x-rays.
Even the most experienced dental technician should make sure that they are familiar with the piece of machinery that they are working with before using it. Reviewing the machine’s x-ray positioning guide is a good place to start.


Having modern equipment is a must for anyone learning how to take digital x-rays. Dentists now have a choice of traditional film x-rays and digital sensors for computerized systems, depending on the needs of their practice.

As technology has advanced in this field, the devices have also become more accurate and comfortable for the patient. Reading the machine’s x-ray positioning guide for maintenance instructions and following them can also help to ensure that the imaging system is functioning properly.

KaVo Dental is proud to offer the latest in digital dental x-ray machines. In addition to providing top-of-the-line dental equipment, KaVo is committed to providing new dental providers with specialized training and education.

Patient Positioning in extraoral imaging devices

Proper positioning of the patient is one of the most important first steps when considering how to take digital x-rays. As always, the machine’s x-ray positioning guide should be consulted for procedures more specific to your machine, but the following are some general guidelines:

  1. The patient should be asked to stand up and remove all metal jewelry and accessories from the neck up.
  2. Place a lead apron over the patient and ask they to stand in the machine.
  3. Guide the patient to place his or her mouth on the bite stick, which should be positioned slightly above the level of their head.
  4. The lips should be together with the tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth.
  5. Maneuver the bite stick so that the chin is be pointed down slightly, with the forehead reaching forward. Check for the Frankfurt-Plane to be horizontal.
  6. The patient should then grasp the handlebars on the machine to help maintain their position and do one small step forward to stretch the spine.
  7. Remind the patient to not move throughout the x-ray process to minimize blurring of the images. It is recommended to let him close the eyes to avoid head movement.

When positioning the patient, the operator must keep comfort at the forefront of their mind at all times. The following are some tips to help the patient stay safe and comfortable throughout the entire procedure.

  • Provide clear directions, or guide the patient gently into position if needed.
  • Ask the patient if he or she is comfortable.
  • Set the x-ray machine up before positioning the patient, so they aren’t in the same position for too long.
  • The operator should stay close enough to be able to see and hear the patient at all times.

Radiation Geometry on intraoral x-rays

According to Dentistry Today, there are 5 cardinal rules that should be followed when it comes to how to take a dental x-ray.

  • Radiation should come from a point source. This is machine specific and can’t be controlled by the operator.
  • The distance from the source (of the radiation) to object (tooth) should be as long as is possible to reduce magnification effects. The normal distance for intraoral images is from 200 to 300 mm which is achieved by a cone at the device.
  • The distance from the object (tooth) to the film or digital sensor should be as short as possible.
  • The tooth and film or sensor should remain parallel.
  • The central beam should be perpendicular to both the tooth and the film or sensor.

Learning how to take digital x-rays is a skill that requires practice. This x-ray positioning guide has discussed several pointers for improving the quality and accuracy of your x-ray images.


Sources for the X-Ray Positioning Guide: