After recently having X-rays of their teeth done at the dentist’s office, it is understandable that some patients are baffled when they learn their orthodontist also wants to take an X-ray. However, if you or one of your children needs to correct a tooth misalignment, more X-rays will most likely be required. X-rays are a very important diagnostic tool during the orthodontic process. It is helpful to understand why they are so necessary.
What Is an X-Ray?
An X-ray, which is also called a radiograph, is a type of imaging test frequently used in dental and medical fields. A machine uses radiation beams to see through skin and soft tissue to the underlying teeth and bones. There are many different types of X-rays used at an orthodontist’s office, and they can be made from either the inside or outside of the mouth. Intraoral X-rays such as bitewing X-rays show detailed images of individual groups of teeth.
Panoramic rays are a very common type of X-ray that shows the entire mouth on a single X-ray image. Cephalometric projections image the entire head so that the teeth can be viewed in relation to the jaw. An orthodontist’s office may need to take many different types of X-rays to develop a customized treatment plan.
How do X-Rays Work?
An X-ray machine works by sending a concentrated beam of X-ray photons at a targeted area of the body. This beam passes through soft tissues, but it is absorbed by the dense bones and teeth inside the head. Some patients are concerned about the level of radiation received during an X-ray, so it is important to note that the radiation exposure from an orthodontic X-ray is less than the radiation exposure you would face during an average plane flight.
These denser tissues show up as white areas on an X-ray film. Denser areas will be lighter than no dense areas. Therefore, orthodontists can see root canals, decay, and abscesses as darker than the very white areas of tooth enamel and tooth fillings. In order to take an X-ray, the patient may need to bite down on certain types of X-ray film so that an accurate image can be produced.
What Do Orthodontists Do With X-Rays?
There are several different reasons that orthodontic procedures require more X-rays than the basic one taken at a dentist’s office. Initial X-rays help orthodontists to come up with a treatment plan because it shows the individual location of teeth in the mouth. This allows orthodontists to determine the best way of correctly aligning the teeth and jaw bone with braces or Invisalign treatments. X-rays also show any underlying issues, such as tooth abscesses.
These may need to be fixed before orthodontic treatment can begin. Orthodontists are particularly reliant on X-rays because they are the only way to show the roots of the teeth. Unusually short or long tooth roots will affect how much teeth can be shifted through treatments.
How Are Orthodontic X-Rays Different from Regular Ones?
Many patients hope that they can just use old dental X-rays when they visit an orthodontist’s office. However, this is often not possible because dental X-rays do not provide all of the information that orthodontists need. Most X-rays from a dentist’s office will be broad panoramic images that are used to check for tooth decay and make sure teeth are growing in correctly. Orthodontists often need X-rays that look at the entire jawline and show detailed images of tooth roots. Therefore, when you go to an orthodontist’s office, they will often need to take a few different types of X-rays before they can start installing braces or taking molds for an Invisalign treatment.
What Type of Patients Will Need X-Rays?
Orthodontists do not just need to take X-rays during an initial consultation with a new patient who wants realigned teeth. There are many different reasons that an orthodontist might recommend X-rays. A person’s age, the state of oral health, overall health, and current status can make a big difference. Children often need more X-rays during a treatment than adults because they are still growing and their teeth rapidly move around as the jaw bone increases in size. If a tooth falls out or moves into a new place, it can affect an orthodontic treatment plan.
People who are at risk for certain oral diseases also need more X-rays to monitor their mouth for signs of decay. For example, patients with diabetes have a higher risk of gum disease. X-rays may be used to make sure that gum disease is not causing jaw or tooth root decay. Though it is true that most new patients will need X-rays, the number of X-rays that you or your child will need after initial consultations can vary.
Will You Need Multiple X-Rays?
Orthodontists will not always require X-rays during treatment, but it can be helpful to see how the treatment process is affecting the invisible parts of the mouth. In rare cases, orthodontic treatment can shorten tooth roots. It is helpful for the doctor to be able to monitor root length and stop treatment if this occurs. X-rays can be very useful at monitoring how the teeth and jaw bones are affected by braces. Therefore, there will typically be one X-ray needed during the process of realigning teeth. After the teeth have been moved to the correct placement, one more X-ray is typically needed to ensure that all orthodontic work is complete. This can help an orthodontist to make any minor necessary adjustments if needed.
Here’s the Kicker
If your family needs to visit an orthodontist’s office in South Carolina, look no further than Dr. Nease & Dr. Higginbotham. Our talented staff and experienced orthodontists provide quality service and make sure that you get the fantastic care. We are conveniently located with three offices in Spartanburg, Duncan, and Gaffney. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you to achieve your best possible smile.
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Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics
424 Hyatt Street – Suite E
Phone: (864) 579-7700
Why Does the Orthodontist Need to X-ray? [6 ANSWERS]