Why Does the Orthodontist Need to X-ray?
Parents accompanying their children to the orthodontist for the first time may have some questions about the need to take X-rays. Didn’t the dentist who referred you for orthodontia X-ray your child’s teeth before you got here? Why is it necessary to take an additional set of X-rays? What can the orthodontist see on an X-ray that a dentist can’t?
There may also be some understandable concerns about the increased cancer risk associated with radiation, along with the more practical worries about how to make younger children sit still long enough to successfully take an X-ray.
This article aims to answer all of the above questions, provide suggests for supporting children during an orthodontic exam, and help put parents’ and children’s minds at ease when it comes time for X-rays at the orthodontist’s office.
What Does an X-ray Do?
X-rays are an essential diagnostic tool in your orthodontist’s tool kit. This imaging test uses concentrated radiation beams to see through soft tissue to the underlying skeletal structure, including the teeth. Depending on whether they’re taken inside or outside of the mouth, they give the orthodontist different information about the condition of your teeth.
Cephalometric X-rays allow your ortho to look at your entire head and see the condition of your teeth relative to your jaw. Panoramic X-rays let your ortho see the entire inside of your mouth in a single image. Intraoral X-rays or bitewing X-rays allow your ortho to get a closer, more detailed look at your teeth.
Your ortho may need to take a variety of different types of X-rays to get the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and offer treatment options. Depending on the severity of the misalignment and other factors, these treatment options may include traditional metal braces, clear aligners like Invisalign, or, in more complicated cases, even surgical intervention.
What Can an Ortho See On An X-ray?
At this point you still may be asking yourself, “But what about the X-rays were taken at my dentist’s office? Why aren’t those good enough for my ortho?”
The answer is that the types of X-rays taken in dental and orthodontic offices yield different types of information, and the two frequently aren’t interchangeable.
Whereas dentists use X-rays to diagnose problems like tooth decay and gum disease, Orthodontists use X-rays to assess issues related to the alignment of the teeth and bite problems. Issues like overcrowding, misalignment, overbites, and gaps in the teeth can all be seen on orthodontic X-rays.
Getting a clear picture of your orthodontic problems is the vital first step in prescribing an accurate treatment plan and getting you on your way to the perfect smile.
Are X-rays Dangerous?
Some parents have probably heard that there’s an increased risk of certain cancers associated with X-rays. While it’s true that the risk of cancer does increase in proportion to the intensity of radiation exposure, it’s important to realize that the amount of radiation emitted by an X-ray machine is less than you can expect to encounter during an airplane ride, and experts agree that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Will X-rays Be Painful for My Child?
A child who has never had an X-ray before may find the procedure intimidating and worry whether it will be painful. You can support your child by assuring them that the procedure will not hurt, but that it’s very important to remain as still as possible until it’s over. You can compare it to a regular photograph: If you move too much, the picture will be blurry and hard to see and may need to be retaken. But if you stay very still, the ortho will end up with a clear image.
What Will Happen After the X-ray is Taken?
Once your ortho has reviewed your X-rays and made a diagnosis, treatment can begin.
The course of treatment will vary depending on factors including the age of the child and the condition of the teeth. Here are some of the possible treatments you may be prescribed:
- Traditional metal braces
- Lingual (behind the teeth) or ceramic brackets
- Invisalign or other clear aligners
- Headgear (this is sometimes prescribed to correct bite problems)
- Jaw surgery
I’ve Already Begun Treatment: Why Do I Still Need X-rays?
Periodically during orthodontic treatment, your ortho may request additional X-rays. This is to help measure the progress made by the time your treatment began and now. It allows the ortho to know that everything is progressing the way it should be.
Call Our Orthodontist Today to Schedule Your First Appointment
At Childers Orthodontics in Benton, Ill., Dr. Kyle R. Childers offers expert care for children, teenagers and adults. Our orthodontist provides these treatments to repair misaligned teeth:
• Damon System – passive self-ligating devices
• Braces – traditional wires and brackets or color-matching ceramic brackets
• Aligners – designed by Invisalign
• Retainers – designed for keeping teeth in correct positions
• SureSmile – customized archwires
• Propel – alveolar perforations for faster bone formation
Call us to schedule your first orthodontic evaluation.
201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815
Why Does the Orthodontist Need to X-ray?